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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

High Covid rates in young people prompts call for caution

County infection rates among 11-16-year-olds higher than national average

Students studying in class

Families are being urged to be cautious because of high rates of coronavirus among young people as Leicestershire schools return for the new term.

Classes are resuming after the summer holidays this week but public health officials at Leicestershire County Council are concerned that the infection rate among 11 to 16 year-olds in the county is now 582.8 cases per 100,000 people.

That is above the national average for that age group which is 443.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Leicestershire’s director of public health Mike Sandys said that children were at low risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 themselves but that the return to school could increase the chance of them taking the virus home and infecting older relatives.

With the relaxation of restrictions pupils no longer have to remain in bubbles as they did before so there will be more mixing. We have already seen rates rising among young people when they have been socialising during the holidays.

There have been examples of parties being held to celebrate the recent exam results which we think have been contributing to pushing rates up well beyond where we want them to be.

It is really important children return to the classroom safely, and schools have been working really hard to make that possible, but we must all remember the virus is still here.

It doesn’t distinguish between one side of the school gate or the other so we can’t let our guard down.

Leicestershire’s director of public health Mike Sandys

Secondary schools and colleges have been asked to prepare for on-site testing and the Government has said all pupils and students should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, three to five days apart until the end of September when this will be reviewed.

Mr Sandys said there were also simple things that people can do beyond the school gates to help reduce the risk of spreading infection.

He said: “The trend of household clusters is something we’ve spotted in recent weeks it’s important people continue to be sensible.

“Simple steps like regular testing, handwashing, wiping down surfaces and opening windows or doors to allow air to flow through will all contribute to help keeping you and those around you safe.

“Getting vaccinated is the best form of protection being offered out there at the moment, but it doesn’t prevent you from catching or spreading the virus.

“Testing is so accessible now and it’s important we embrace the hygiene habits we’ve formed over the recent months to keep the virus at bay.”

Schools will contact families directly about their arrangements regarding Covid-19. However, more information about changes this term, including links to the latest government guidance, can be found at leicestershire.gov.uk/back-to-school

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