'Test, test, test' plea with Covid-19 cases doubling and more younger people in Northamptonshire hospitals
Government are relying on people's goodwill yet many have forgotten simple things, warns health chief
TEST, TEST, TEST is the message to Northamptonshire residents as health chiefs bid to avoid a new Covid-19 crisis in the county.
County Director of Public Health, Lucy Wightman, revealed more younger people are being admitted to local hospitals as a result of catching coronavirus.
Four out of 130 Covid-linked deaths in England confirmed on Friday (October 22) were patients being treated for the virus in Northampton General Hospital.
Nine nationally were in their 40s and 50s, two were under 40. Figures relating to ages of those who have sadly died are only published at a national level.
Health secretary Sajid Javid was criticised after describing the number of daily deaths as "mercifully low" during a government briefing.
And Mrs Wightman is concerned that the government is relying on "people's goodwill" to avoid to situation worsening.
She said: "We're still clearly not on top of this.
"Hospital admissions are a particular concern. They are not all our older population as they were and we are now seeing younger people being admitted.
"We're still pushing all the measures that we can but until the government recognises more is required then our hands are bound.
■ Click HERE to see where you can collect lateral flow testing kits to use at home or order online.
"We're having to rely on people's goodwill and common sense but I think some have forgotten how effective simple things like testing, social distancing and hand washing are."
World Health Organisation head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at the start of the pandemic in March last year: "We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test."
Nearly a third fewer lateral flow test results are being processed since schools went back in early September despite the number of cases in the county doubling to 5,000 a week.
The daily average of tests dropped from around 13,000 to just under 9,000 by October 20.
Mrs Wightman believes the figures are skewed by people not reporting results rather than by not taking them but admits the rising number of Covid cases is a warning for when kids go back after half-term.
She said: “The virus is continuing to circulate at high levels across our county and we must do everything within our power to curb this spread.
"It’s particularly important to be cautious during half-term when children might be mixing at organised activities or sports clubs.
"Please also keep up lateral flow testing at least twice a week during the break — parents and guardians, too.
“One in three people with coronavirus do not have any symptoms, so could be unknowingly spreading the infection to others.
"It is important, though, that people with symptoms should still get a PCR test rather than the lateral-flow version."
Latest official figures showed weekly Covid case rates among 10-14-year-olds in schools the county reached 2,600 per 100,000 by October 16 — ten times the rate for 20-24-year-olds in work.
The highest rate among the county's adults is 40-to-44-year-olds with 827 cases per week per 100,000.
Lateral flow tests are available free for anybody and aimed particularly at those without symptoms yet still able to pass the virus on to others more vulnerable. Anybody with a positive test is advised to self-isolate and take a PCR test to confirm the result.
But Mrs Wightman added: "After a positive PCR test, it is vital any school age siblings also seek an urgent PCR test and stay at home until the result is known.
"Even if that is negative, continue taking a daily test for ten days to reduce any chance of transmission into schools."