Take precautions as COVID cases come close to record levels in Oxfordshire

People in Oxfordshire are being urged to take every COVID precaution possible, with rates in the county about to top those recorded at the height of the second wave in early January.

Case rates in the county currently stand at 648 per 100,000 of the population, compared with 655 per 100,000 on 4 January. Although case numbers remain highest in children, there are also particularly notable rises in the 40 - 49 age group.

There is also a small but rising number of Omicron variant cases in the county, which – as with the rest of England – will affect the overall situation ever more as December progresses.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Ansaf Azhar, said: “Cases in Oxfordshire are as high as they’ve ever been, so now is the moment when we all need to take extra care to look after ourselves and our loved ones.

“It is thanks to the vaccination programme that these high case numbers are not matched by the sort of hospital numbers or death rates that we saw across the country in early 2021. That’s why it’s so important for people to come forward for a jab as soon as they become eligible, whether that’s a first, second, third or booster jab.

“We must also remember that the NHS and social care are under huge amounts of pressure, and we must do everything we can to protect these vital resources.

“With rising case numbers and the new variant in circulation, we are now in a very uncertain period. There are however some certainties, whether we are talking about Omicron or Delta. Wearing face coverings, being careful about mixing with others, washing hands, ventilating rooms and all of that familiar advice remains crucial.

Testing is another key defence in our fight against the virus. By regularly using lateral flow tests, particularly before meeting family, friends, or co-workers, you cut down the chances of passing on the virus unwittingly to others.

“With Christmas on the horizon, people will have some tricky judgements to make as we all try to negotiate our way through to the festive period without testing positive. The last thing anyone would want is to miss out on the big days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day because you’re ill or self-isolating.

“We are not currently facing the kind of tough restrictions we did last year. So it’s down to each of us to take precautions so that we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“We urge people to apply their common sense to their own personal circumstances to help stop the spread and increase their chances of keeping their families COVID-free as Christmas approaches.”