UPDATE: Oxford on amber alert as cases continue to rise

UPDATE: Oxford on amber alert as cases continue to rise

Oxfordshire’s Director of Public Health urges people to stopthespread and warns that if cases continue to rise, local control measures may be introduced.

In the 7 days up to 21 August, there have been 86 confirmed cases in Oxfordshire, which is an increase from 65 cases in the previous week. The latest data is here.

The majority of new cases are in Oxford, where the number has risen from 28 to 41. The increase is predominantly among young people in the 18-29 age bracket. The increase can be partly attributed to people returning from holidays in Europe, where cases of the virus are rising, and partly to lower levels of adherence to social distancing.

The weekly rate for Oxford currently stands at 26.9 cases per 100,000 population, which means the city is moving ever closer to figures in parts of the country that have been labelled by central Government as areas of concern or that require intervention. Oxfordshire’s Public Health Surveillance Unit is monitoring the situation very closely. If cases continue to rise, then local control measures may be introduced.

For anyone with symptoms: A mobile testing unit is available in Oxford from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 August. It’s located at the Union Street car park, just behind Tesco on Cowley Road, and it’s operational from 10am to 4.30pm. You can walk or drive there, but please book an appointment first. Book online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “With a Bank Holiday coming up, the need for people to abide by all of the things that we know stop the spread of this virus is greater than ever.

“We can see the number of people contracting COVID is increasing per 100,000 of the population on a day-by-day basis and it is very unsettling. Undoubtedly the 18-29 year age group is driving this rise in cases.

“We were able to leave lockdown and stay out of it because we were suppressing the virus locally by our own actions. We were keeping our distance from each other, sanitising and wearing masks. It feels to me like some people now believe the virus is gone for good. I can assure you that it hasn’t.

“My appeal to everyone in Oxford – and 18 to 29 year olds in particular – is to remember what got us out of lockdown. Do we really want to end up with the kind of local control measures we have seen introduced in various parts of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Leicester and Aberdeen?

“At the minute it feels like we are moving in that direction. People need to be aware their behaviour is putting themselves and others at risk. If you’re aged 18 to 29 and catch COVID-19, you are absolutely not guaranteed to get away with the mildest symptoms. Even mild symptoms are a struggle, while longer-term symptoms can include chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and memory loss.

“Equally you may well pass this on to older or more vulnerable people. How would you feel if you knew that someone was in hospital in a ventilator with their life under threat because you’d passed COVID-19 on to them?

“Now is the time to act to #stopthespread. I’ve said it over and over – this whole situation is in our own hands. We all need to act responsibly and follow the very simple advice. If we do that collectively, we will reverse this upward trend that we are seeing in Oxford. If we don’t bring the infection rate under control then measures will be introduced of the kind we’ve seen elsewhere in the country. It’s that simple.”

You can find out more about how to keep yourself safe, and the latest number of cases in Oxfordshire, at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/stopthespread.

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Published: 24 August 2020