It may be August but COVID-19 has not gone on holiday warns public health chief after Oxford rise

People in Oxford are being warned that while they may be spending August relaxing and taking a break, COVID-19 is as active as ever and beginning to show the very early signs of spreading more quickly.

Statistics for the week up to August 14 show a noticeable rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Oxford – and these are disproportionately centred around 18-30 year olds.

A total of 28 of cases were in Oxford. This compares with 16 the previous week. There are further signs of continued rises in the days beyond August 14.

Although Oxford’s COVID-19 statistics remain below levels that have led to the re-introduction of measures to suppress the virus in the north-west of England, Yorkshire, Leicester, Aberdeen and some other places – the trend has been upward this week.

Ansaf Azhar, Director of Public Health at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We saw a rise in the number of positive cases in Oxford in late July and this thankfully dropped again as we entered August. It now seems we are back up to those late July levels again and they are continuing to rise beyond this.

“The new cases are not centred on any venue, place of work or other cluster. They seem to be centred on people aged between 18 and 30 and there is a suspicion that people in this age group are relaxing during the holiday season and forgetting all of the important things that have helped suppress COVID-19 since the Spring.

“The message to younger people is that you may not experience the worst of the symptoms yourself, but you may pass it on to loved ones in older age groups or those with underlying health conditions who do. Please play your part to stop the spread.

“However, wider messages about people going on holiday and enjoying Summer apply to everybody. Please take extra care. It may be August, you may be taking a break – but COVID-19 is not taking a break. If you give it an inch, it will take a mile. Let’s stop giving it any room for manoeuvre. We have seen already the damage this virus can cause – both here in the UK and abroad.

“If you’ve been abroad to a country that is not on the exemption list then by law you need to self-isolate for 14 days.”

“The plea is a simple one – be consistent in remembering those simple measures that help keep us safe – keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a mask. If we all do these things, we will avoid having to introduce measures that we’ve seen elsewhere in England.”

Take care over the Bank Holiday too!

Ansaf added: “To a large degree controlling this issue is in our own hands as a result of our own behaviours. We have a Bank Holiday weekend coming up. Again – the temptation will be to relax and act as if it is a normal August Bank Holiday. It isn’t. Please take responsibility and play your part – we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

“The weekly rate per 100,000 of population in Oxford was 18.4 on August 14 and we have indications that this is forecast to rise further in coming days and weeks. Although this is still below the thresholds that have seen measures re-introduced elsewhere in the country, it is higher than many other areas in the south-east of the UK and the rising trend this week is something that requires huge vigilance.”