As COVID-19 cases continue to fall, Public Health officials are urging Northamptonshire's residents to continue to stop the spread, stick to the rules, and save even more lives.
They are reminding residents that 'lockdown works' and that since its start on 05 January, adhering to restrictions has cut coronavirus related hospital admissions, reduced weekly cases by 64% and started to stem the sadly high death rates of our loved ones.
Residents are also being told that in order to maintain an overall downward trend in case rates, despite any Government pathway of recovery, to continue to get tested and follow the gold standard protective trio: Hands, Face, Space.
An additional reminder is being issued that gathering in groups is not allowed, whatever a person's age or hobby.
This week's surveillance report, an analysis of the county's recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 08 to 14 February 2021, shows 1,342 residents have tested positive.
Northamptonshire's total number of weekly cases continues to remain high but shows a strong decline compared to the recent peak seen in the week of 11 January 2021.
However, all district and borough infection rates, except for South Northamptonshire, are still significantly higher than or similar to the national average. Wellingborough, Northampton, Kettering and Corby's rates are significantly higher.
Corby has the highest case rate in England at the time of going to press, despite decreasing case numbers.
With the exception of Daventry, where the number has remained the same, Northamptonshire as a county and all districts and boroughs have also seen a decrease in numbers of deaths of loved ones when compared to the previous week.
The age group with the most positive tests in this week's data was again the 30 to 39 year olds for both men and women, which is typically the working population. More hospital admissions and deaths are being observed in this age category, so people in this age group must remain vigilant and adhere to the rules in order to protect themselves and others.
The county's community based testing sites for workers who must mix with others are at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby, the University of Northampton, and a new site at Danes Camp Leisure Centre in Northampton which opened on Monday this week.
The test is called a Lateral Flow Test and involves a swab of the mouth and nose and provides a result within 30 minutes.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, says:
The data clearly shows that following the guidance and abiding by lockdown measures works in cutting the numbers of coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and tragic deaths of loved ones.
However, it is of deep concern that we have received reports of group gatherings which are simply not allowed, whatever your age or hobby.
We know the virus is transmitted through close personal contact and that is why restrictions forbidding gatherings have been put in place. This applies to all age groups. Whilst we are under these restrictions please adhere to them, whether that be in a skate park, outside a coffee booth or in gardens and homes.
This is a community effort so let's work together and do the right thing so we don't put friends and family at risk of severe disease. Exercise only with your household or with ONE other person only from outside of your household. Do not mix in large groups and wherever possible avoid busy times and areas always ensuring you can stay two metres away from others, even outside.
Any less than this and you increase the risk of spreading the virus. If we all work together on this, we can help get case rates across the county down and recover sooner."
This week the Department for Health and Social Care announced the introduction of a new risk model to help identify a new group of people who may be at high risk from COVID-19 and must shield.
This model takes into account extra factors rather than just health and includes things such as ethnicity, deprivation (by postcode) and weight, to work out a person's risk of becoming seriously ill if they were to catch COVID-19. It also looks at age, underlying health issues and prescribed medications.
Some Northamptonshire residents are being sent letters by the NHS informing of them of their new status, which means they are entitled to the vaccine earlier than anticipated, statutory sick pay, prioritisation for online shopping slots and help collecting medicines.
Government guidelines strongly advise clinically extremely vulnerable people to stay at home at all times, apart from going out to exercise or to attend a medical appointment. They should also try to stay 2m (6ft) away from other people within their household, especially if they display symptoms of the virus or have been advised to self-isolate.
If you've got COVID-19 symptoms, remember to get tested as soon as possible to find out if you are positive. If you have a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste, you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test.
book a test online, on the Test and Trace app, or by calling 119.
If you are not showing symptoms but must work with others, get the rapid test to find out if you are infectious and isolate if positive. It is vital however to understand that the test only tells you whether you are at peak infectiousness at the time of the test, it does not tell you that you are COVID-free.
Levels of infectiousness change from the point of contracting the virus to the point you recover from it, which can take up to 14 days, during which time you may not have experienced any symptoms. It is therefore vital that you exercise all COVID-secure measures even if you get a negative result. You must continue to follow COVID guidelines and remember to wash your hands, wear a face covering indoors and maintain 2m distance from others.
If you have either type of COVID-19 test and it is positive, you must self-isolate for ten days - with your household also isolating for 10 days from when the positive person's symptoms started or test result was positive if they have no symptoms.
Do not go to your workplace, to school or to the shops. Either work from home or report sick. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be helped by the NHS test and trace service to identify the people they've recently been in contact with so they can be alerted and also self-isolate if required.
Book a COVID-19 test online
Home testing kits can also be ordered subject to availability.