Easter warning from health boss as new Covid variant cases huge spike in cases

Oxfordshire’s health boss has issued an Easter Covid warning as a new variant sweeps through the country putting pressure on the health service.

Covid cases in Oxfordshire rose significantly during March due to the new BA.2 variant of Omicron which is more transmissive and has put pressure on local services from hospitals to schools. 

That rise is only just beginning to slow down, although as of April 1 lateral flow tests are no longer being supplied free of charge as part of the UK government’s new ‘Living with Covid’ agenda.

The number of Oxfordshire residents testing positive for Covid was 6115 in the seven days up to April 2, with 877.5 Covid cases per 100,000 people.

This is a reduction of 27.4% (2,308 cases) from the previous seven day period up to April 1.

The figure is still much higher than the national Covid rate for the same period up to April 2, which was 675 cases per 100,000 people. 

There have been 35 people who died within 28 days of having Covid reported between April 1 and April 8 this year in Oxfordshire, compared to 59 in total reported during the whole of March.

Oxfordshire County Council Director Ansaf Azhar

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health Ansaf Azhar warned people not to ‘let down their guard’ despite the end of free testing as the new variant can still lead to ‘severe outcomes’ for the clinically vulnerable. 

He said: “As society has continued to open up, COVID cases have risen throughout the country and Oxfordshire has followed that trend. 

“Free testing may have ended for the vast majority of people but that doesn’t mean we should let down our guard.

“With the forthcoming Easter school break and bank holiday on the horizon it’s important to remember that COVID is still very much in circulation and we should do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society in particular.

“In summary we are asking people to continue to be cautious, be aware and be considerate.”

Easter warning from health boss as new Covid variant cases huge spike in casesLateral flow tests are no longer free for the general public as of April 1.

The steps the health body has outlined for those living in Oxfordshire to take to help services are:

  • Stay at home if you are unwell and avoid contact with others.
  • Keep rooms well ventilated
  • Washing hand regularly
  • Wear masks in crowded settings 
  • Get a vaccine and remember to get your booster jab when it is offered

These behaviours help contain the spread of other respiratory illnesses too.

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