Kettering's Covid rate goes through the roof as 'simply shocking' school infections soar
More than four per cent of Kettering's children aged between 10 and 14 have tested positive for Covid in a single week as the town's infection rate soars.
As of yesterday (Sunday) raw data showed the district had a seven-day case rate of 988 per 100,000 people, three times higher than the England average of 336.
It has had more than 100 cases a day for the past seven days - a weekly total of 1,010 cases - just a handful fewer than the weekly total for Northampton which has more than double the population.
The second highest seven-day case rate is Allerdale in Cumbria with 760 cases per 100,000 people. Corby, whose rate topped UK charts for many weeks, is now at number five with a case rate of 701.
The vast majority of Kettering's cases are in children - with the rolling seven-day case rate for those aged between 10 and 14 in the town standing at a whopping 4,227 according to raw data.
Epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani said on Twitter: "This is simply shocking.
"One in 24 children testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 *in a single week* in Kettering.
"The rise here is practically a vertical line - and no sign of coming down.
"This is what the pursuit [of] 'herd immunity' through mass infection of children looks like."
Today (Monday) this newspaper has contacted every secondary school in the Kettering area or its parent trust to find out how many pupils are currently self-isolating because of positive Covid tests and what measures have been taken to tackle the rise in cases.
Our requests have largely been met with a wall of silence.
Southfield School in Lewis Road said they are continuing to revise their risk assessment in light of rising cases in the community. They said they are in regular contact with Public Health England and have taken a series of actions on recommendation. They have re-introduced face coverings in communal areas and say they have the capacity to conduct lateral flow testing with specific cohorts as required. The question of how many pupils they currently have self-isolating because of a positive Covid test went unanswered.
A spokesman for Kettering Buccleuch Academy said: “Like other schools in Kettering, we do currently have high numbers of positive Covid-19 cases amongst our students including many asymptomatic cases. We are in regular contact with PHE about what additional steps we should take on top of the existing procedures and steps we have already in place. For example, we have reintroduced the use of face masks in communal areas of the school and are minimising the interaction between different classes. This is something we take extremely seriously and will continue to work in partnership with the medical experts to do everything we can to help minimise cases locally."
Latimer Arts College, Bishop Stopford School, Montsaye Academy and Kettering Science Academy did not respond.
While case rates in Kettering continue to rise it is not yet translating to capacity pressures on Kettering General Hospital, as it did in previous waves in March last year and January this year, thanks to the nation's vaccination programme. A total of 82.8 per cent of people in Kettering have had a first dose, with 77.1 per cent of people fully vaccinated.
A total of 14 Covid patients have died at Kettering General Hospital in September, including three in a single day on September 20.
As of September 22 the Rothwell Road hospital had 34 Covid-positive inpatients including seven in critical care.
The county's director of public health Lucy Wightman said: “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.
“In the same way that the Corby spike was largely caused by an early return to schools and household mixing we are now seeing a similar upturn in Covid-19 cases in the Kettering population. As a neighbouring area to Corby many Kettering residents attend schools and or mix with the community in Corby.
“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 LFD (lateral flow) testing in secondary school aged pupils, the majority of which are currently unvaccinated.
“Despite the lifting of national restrictions 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. Take regular twice weekly LFD tests, which are available to pick up at most pharmacies, or if you have symptoms a PCR test. 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.”