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Cambridgeshire’s Enhanced Response Area status extended as county reports record numbers of Covid-19 infections

Cambridgeshire’s status of an Enhanced Response Area has been extended as provisional data suggests it recorded its highest number of Covid-19 infections in a week since the pandemic began.

Cambridgeshire has Enhanced Response Area status extended to December 24
Cambridgeshire has Enhanced Response Area status extended to December 24

An application by the county’s director of public health Jyoti Atri for the status to be extended until December 24 has been agreed by the government amid “significant issues with Covid” in schools.

The status will mean increased intervention in schools will continue until the end of term. This includes identification of close and household contacts and daily rapid LFD testing in secondary schools as primary settings at parent/guardian discretion.

There were 3,790 confirmed cases reported in the county based on reported figures for the week to Friday, December 3, which are subject to change.

The figures come in the week that the county recorded its first known case of the highly mutated Omicron variant, which was confirmed in South Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire County Council confirmed that 42 per cent of all infections are currently in the 0-17 age group.

Jyoti Atri has been appointed director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council (53531513)
Jyoti Atri has been appointed director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council (53531513)

Ms Atri said: “We are pleased this extension will allow us to continue measures that have only just got going and need longer. This will support schools where there are significant issues with Covid until the Christmas break, and continue to drive up vaccine uptake.”

The extra resource has included having a national surge rapid response vaccination team on the ground locally, making direct contact with households in areas of low vaccination uptake which will continue to December 20.

The area under the ERA has benefitted from extra national communications advising residents on protective measures to prevent infection spread.

COVID-19 omicron variant - 3d rendered image
COVID-19 omicron variant - 3d rendered image

The past five weeks of ERA status has seen a measurable rapid increase in uptake of vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds in most areas.

Ms Atri confirmed: “Pre-ERA we were considerably below both the England and East of England average for the numbers of 12 – 15 year-olds who were vaccinated. Now all areas in Cambridgeshire are above the England average and most are also above the East of England average too.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UK Heath Security Agency, added: “Our local partners in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have been working tirelessly to increase testing and vaccination uptake amongst 12 to 15 year olds. At national level, we will continue to reinforce the local response to this pandemic, delivering additional support to these areas until December 24.”

Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of the county council’s adults and health committee, revealed in the Cambridge Independent last week that an extension of the status was being considered.

He said today (Monday): “This decision means extra protection for local people will continue in the run-up to Christmas and is a clear vindication that the measures brought in locally are working.

“We took early and decisive action in Cambridgeshire, in recognition of specific concerns in terms of local cases and it is really important that we do not let down our guard now. These measures continue to be needed to help manage the tremendous pressure on our hospitals and essential services that a peak of infection rates early in the New Year is likely to bring.

“I would urge everyone to take steps to prevent infection spreading when they are making plans to meet family and friends over the coming weeks, and when they are out and about in crowded areas. Taking a rapid LFD test before you set out is no hardship but could prevent serious illness in someone you love.”

“I would also like to urge everyone to remember the simple steps which are so effective in helping prevent the spread of infection", agreed Cllr Susan van de Ven, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing board for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. “And please remember wearing a face covering in crowded areas – which is now mandatory unless you are exempt - will help protect you and those around you. Thank you.”

Dr Harries added: “Remember that everybody, everywhere, should take simple steps to protect themselves from infection. Please wear face coverings in line with government guidance, let in fresh air when mixing indoors and wash your hands regularly. Vaccination is more critical than ever so please come forward for your latest jab without delay - whether that's your first, second, third or booster jab.”

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Cambridgeshire reports record numbers of Covid-19 infections - find the latest data for your area

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