The covid alert level for Brighton and Hove has moved up to amber after the number of official cases tripled in a week.
The steep rises in cases, which came as more students returned to the city and after a new testing centre opened, boosting capacity by 60%.
In the week up to 1 October there were 115 confirmed new Covid-19 cases in the city. This is up from 39 cases in the previous week.
The alert level is now one away from red alert, the stage at which the Government will declare the city an area of national concern.
However, the weekly rate of 39.5 per 100,000 residents, while much higher, is still less than half the average rate for England, which was 97.5 per 100,000, during the same period
Locally, the virus is still most prevalent and rising most quickly in the 16-25 age group, which includes older school pupils and sixth formers as well as university students and other young adults.
Both universities have now reported cases –
Alistair Hill, Director of Public Health, said: “It’s really concerning that the number of cases has more than doubled over the past week. If transmission keeps increasing we risk the Government imposing more restrictions on the city.
“We all now need to make extra efforts or risk a local lockdown.
“I am asking everyone in the city to play your part by making extra efforts to keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a face covering, limit contact with others and follow the rule of six.
“And if you do have Covid symptoms please self-isolate, along with your household members, and get tested.”
The rise is partly explained by an increase in testing availability in the city. Alistair Hill explains: “On behalf of residents, the council worked hard to ensure that the Government increased testing capacity in Brighton & Hove.
“With the new local testing unit in East Brighton and a local mobile testing unit, in the last 10 days of September the rate of local people tested increased by more than 60%. This gives a more accurate picture of the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 than we had in the previous week.
“However, this does not explain all the increase that we have seen. In common with most areas in the country, it is likely that the data shows infection rates are on the rise.”
Rates of infection are highest and still growing among young people aged 16-25 years old. This includes teenagers and sixth-formers as well as students and young adults.
Alistair Hill said: “We know that most infections happen when people from different households mix and socialise with each other, which includes house and flat shares as well as families.
“That is why social distancing, face coverings, reducing your number of contacts and the rule of six are so important. The virus spreads most quickly when people are close together.
“The hands, face and space guidelines prevent the virus spreading, but only if we keep to them, especially when meeting other people.
“Not just socialising – this includes car sharing and sports as well places where people cluster like queues and shops.”
The council will be working closely with local businesses, including hospitality venues, to help them keep their customers and employees safe by complying with guidelines including displaying QR codes for the new NHS test and trace app.
Full details of current cases of confirmed cases of Covid in Brighton & Hove are published on the Council website: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/covid-19-key-statistics-brighton-hove/current-alert-level-and-guidance
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