Return to schools NOT linked to latest spike in Corby Covid cases, say health chiefs
Experts investigating rise in number of positive tests which started up to three days before March 8
Public Health chiefs insist Corby's latest jump in Covid-19 cases is not connected with students returning to classrooms.
The borough has one of the highest infection rates in the country again according to official Government figures, despite recent improvements.
Experts say the rise happened BEFORE the majority of students went back to schools on March 8 — but admit they are braced for another jump as more youngsters and staff get tested regularly.
County council public health consultant Rhosyn Harris said: "We look at cases for up to five days ago because they are more reliable, which means the case rates have risen in Corby up to March 10.
"It takes about five days after an exposure to the virus for symptoms to appear so for those cases that have popped up between March 8 and March 10 we are looking at something that was potentially happening in the community about five days before March 10.
"It is a concern and we're looking into that seriously but it's not something that's related to schools going back on March 8."
Corby saw 111 positive tests in the week up to March 10 which means 153.7 per 100,000 people — up by more than 12 per cent over the previous five days.
Only three areas in the UK have a higher rate although raw data gathered since last week suggests Corby might now be the highest.
Kettering is the next highest area of Northamptonshire with 93.3 cases per 100,000.
Wellingborough's rate is 75.2, Northampton's 70.8, Daventry's 51.2, East Northamptonshire 64.5 and South Northants 32.8.
Health chiefs admit they expect those rates to start rising as a result of last week's first step in easing lockdown restrictions.
Schools returned with an enhanced testing regime for staff and secondary school students involving twice-weekly swabs using lateral flow devices.
The first few days of term produced just seven positive tests out of tens of thousands across the county.
But Ms Harris added: "As schools return we're expecting that cases are going to rise naturally because we're testing more people."
Corby remained consistently top of the list of areas with the highest Covid case rates throughout January and February despite a fall in infections during the lockdown.
Health chiefs and council leaders launched a huge publicity campaign highlighting the need to stick to restrictions, particularly to avoid car sharing when travelling to work.
A second community rapid testing centre opened in the town at Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre last week following one at Lodge Park Sports Centre in January.
Both sites offer tests for those without Covid-19 symptoms and are aimed at key workers. Appointments must be booked online HEREin advance.
The main PCR testing centre for those WITH Covid-19 symptoms — a new, continuous cough, high temperature or change or loss in sense of taste — is still in operation at James Ashworth Square in Corby town centre with appointments bookable HERE by clicking or calling 119 .