Public Health officials are pleased with progress but remind residents that to ensure the trend continues, they must stay at home until further lifting of lockdown measures on 29 March.
This week's surveillance report, an analysis of the county's recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 29 February to 7 March 2021, shows 548 residents have tested positive. Cases have declined steadily over the last few weeks and the latest weekly case total is 71% lower than the week of 1 February 2021.
Due to the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination in the elderly and vulnerable, the number of deaths has also started to reduce more rapidly. Although there is still demand for Intensive Care beds, coronavirus related bed occupancy in the county's hospitals has now decreased to levels last seen at the beginning of November last year.
Northamptonshire as a whole, and all districts and boroughs, have seen a decrease in case numbers when compared to the previous week. However, all district and borough infection rates, except for South Northamptonshire's, remain significantly higher than or similar to the national average. Northampton and Corby's rates remain significantly higher than the national average. Corby continues to have amongst the highest case rates in England despite decreasing case numbers, although the area has made further progress in driving down rates in more recent data.View the latest surveillance report
Now, and in the coming months, residents are being urged to continue to get tested, get vaccinated when the call comes and follow the gold standard protective trio: Hands, Face, Space. This will ensure that the county progresses through the four steps outlined in the Government's 'Roadmap out of lockdown' at the earliest opportunity. They are also being reminded that if they have had a vaccine or a negative Lateral Flow Test, they must still continue to follow all guidance.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, says:
On Monday 8 March residents of Northamptonshire and across England took the first stage of step one on the four-step 'roadmap' out of lockdown. Schools and colleges are now open, care home residents are allowed one regular visitor and you are permitted to meet with one other person for outdoor recreation or activity.
These are positive and welcome steps forwards however national lockdown restrictions continue in place until the end of March and we must all remain vigilant if we wish to takes the next step on the 29 March. For the time being you may only leave the house for limited reasons permitted in law. This rule applies regardless of St Patricks' Day on March 17 or any other day or occasion which requires celebrations, apart from weddings and funerals.
Please keep a two metre distance from those outside your household or bubble outdoors until the government guidance dictates otherwise. Please do not put others at risk on Mothering Sunday or any other day, even if one or both of you have received one or both doses of the vaccine.
It won't be long before we can meet in gardens or outdoors as a household or group of six, but until then please just meet one other adult outdoors at distance. On Mothering Sunday, the rules allow for you to meet your mum on a bench at distance for a drink in the local park or any outdoor space. If we all continue to play our part, and only if, will we be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar."
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable, NHS staff and carers who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, are being urged to contact the NHS to arrange a jab. It's not too late to get the jab even if you originally decided not to have it and have now changed your mind.
For those who are eligible, the easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service.
The system allows patients to choose a time slot and location which suits them. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. Many who have not yet booked an appointment are already receiving follow up letters and phone calls this week to encourage them to take up the offer of a jab.
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.
The county's community based testing sites for workers who cannot work from home are at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby, Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre in Corby, Danes Camp Leisure Centre in Northampton, Brackley Leisure Centre in South Northants and Redwell Leisure Centre in Wellingborough. The test is called a Lateral Flow Test and involves a swab of the mouth and nose and provides a result within 30 minutes. The University of Northampton site is now restricted to students and university staff.
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 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.
Tests can be booked on the Test and Trace app, online or by calling 119.Book a Covid-19 test
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.