Covid cases quadruple among Northamptonshire students but health chief says virus is NOT spreading inside schools
Weekly rates reach 5,900 per 100,000 among 10-14 year-olds since start of term
Health chiefs insist Covid-19 is not being spread inside Northamptonshire schools after case rates more than quadrupled among students.
Government data shows the weekly rate of new positive tests among 10 to 14-year-olds in Kettering jumped from 667 per 100,000 to 5,903 since the start of term.
Among 15-19 year-olds, the rate is now 3,203 per 100,000.
Yet the county's Director of Public Health, Lucy Wightman, says the virus is being transmitted mostly by households mixing outside school and begged everybody to get vaccinated, take lateral flow tests regularly and remember the hands, face space mantra.
Mrs Wightman said: "Our schools are doing the absolute best they can and retaining good practice.
"This is community transmission as more household mixing is taking place."
Kettering now has the highest rate of new positive tests in England while there have been sharp rises in Northampton and Daventry areas.
Cases among school-age children are fuelling that rise, although experts insist that scrapping bubbles and the need for facemasks this term is not a contributory factor.
Throughout the pandemic, analysts have used a formula to compare different areas and age group, assuming each cohort has 100,000 people.
Official figures for Kettering showed the rate among 10 to 14-year-olds on September 1 was 667 per 100,000. That had risen slightly to 1,082 per 100,000 by September 8 — then to 5,384 by September 23.
At the same time, rates among working age adults aged between 20 and 24 HALVED from 481 to 231 per 100,000.
Ms Wightman told this newspaper: "Kettering’s Covid-19 cases are in the main from community transmission as the majority of national restrictions have been lifted and more household mixing is taking place.
“Schools cases in Kettering, as expected, are reflective of the spike in cases within the local community.
"The high prevalence in school aged children has been mainly identified through the re-introduction of regular lateral flow testing in secondary school aged pupils, the majority of which are currently unvaccinated.
"We need to make sure people are aware of all those things that will keep transmission low, particularly as the weather turns and we migrate back indoors.
“There are still important and very simple behaviours Kettering residents and others in Northamptonshire can follow to help play their part in stemming onward transmission of Covid-19.
"Wear face coverings in crowded areas and wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. And when eligible take up the offer of a vaccination, second vaccination, or booster as vaccination remains the single biggest factor in reducing the risk of death and serious illness from Covid-19.”
Latest data from Public Health Northamptonshire showed an average of 190 cases a week county-wide in the education sector on September 21 — more than double the figure from seven days earlier and four-and-a-half times what it was on September 1.
Some headteachers are telling students to wear facemasks again while parents in other schools claim hand sanitiser has been removed because it is no longer part of the government guidance.
First vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds are being delivered in schools this week as the jabs rollout continues.
Overall weekly case rates per 100,000 in all areas of the county using government daily data published yesterday (September 28) were: Corby 709.0; Daventry 616.6; East Northamptonshire 425.3; Kettering 997.3; Northampton 556.1; South Northants 401.1; Wellingborough 485.5.