Take extra care as COVID rate tops 1,000 in Oxfordshire

People in Oxfordshire are being urged to take extra care, with local cases continuing to break all previous records and surge ahead of both the national and South-East regional averages.

The countywide rate has risen to 1,017.1 per 100,000 people. This represents a 34 per cent rise on the previous week, which in turn builds on steep increases earlier in December. In the past week alone, the case rate in Oxford has soared 79 per cent to 1147.2 per 100,000.

In Oxfordshire the number of cases in the week up to 10 December were 5,274. In the week up to 17 December they had risen to 7,088.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Ansaf Azhar said: “This is a very challenging phase of the pandemic both locally and nationally. The Omicron variant now accounts for at least 65 per cent of local cases. We know this is a far more transmissible variant and that is why we are seeing such a steep rise in cases.

“While case rates remain highest in children, the number of cases in people in their 20s has grown hugely in recent days. These will very largely be people who are double rather than triple-jabbed. That’s why it’s so important to get a booster in order to offer yourself the best possible protection.

“With Christmas so close now we know that people will want to socialise and mix with loved ones and friends. Our message is to do so with great care. Try to avoid very large gatherings and always remember the pandemic knowledge that has become so familiar to us all.

“Ventilate rooms with fresh air, wash your hands regularly, wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, keep your distance from people when possible. Every little bit of cautious behaviour will help stop the spread of the virus and protect you and your loved ones.

“Perhaps most importantly we urge people to test before they go to meet people. Please don’t unconsciously take the virus into someone else’s home and ruin their Christmas and New Year.

“We have known throughout the pandemic that older people are more vulnerable so it is particularly important to take these precautions when you are going to be in contact with those age groups.

“The positive news is that people both locally and nationally have been coming forward in their droves to take up the offer of a booster jab. Please continue to do that – it undoubtedly offers extra protection to everyone during this new phase of the pandemic.

“We await further information from central government on whether decisions will be taken to move beyond Plan B in terms of restrictions. However, the ball is in our court as individuals to take care of ourselves and our families as best we possibly can.”