More schoolchildren testing positive for Covid, but Central Bedfordshire figures are below start of January

One in 22 children have reported a positive test in the last seven days

By Euan Duncan
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 3:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 3:02 pm

Covid case rates in Central Bedfordshire increased by 500 last week, although the total remains below figures from the start of January, a meeting heard.

The latest rise could result from this month's return to school, Central Bedfordshire Council' s social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee was told yesterday (Monday).

Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock talked about Covid-19 and the vaccination programme during executive members updates.

Coronavirus infections are below those seen at the start of January

"Up until the end of the weekend, cases have increased by 500," she said. "So the week before last it was just over 2,200 and in the last week it increased to 2,700.

"That's still lower than the beginning of January, just to reiterate that. It could be because the schools have now returned.

"There's a rise in school age children, which is probably the driver for that, particularly among five- to ten-year-olds.

"One in 22 young children have tested positive. That's been reported in the last seven days. There's an increase in the 11- to 15-year-old cohort too.

"Transmissions remain mainly around businesses, care homes and households."

Just over 600,000 first, second and booster vaccines have been administered in Central Bedfordshire.

In BLMK more than 700,000 people have received the first dose, 655,000 have been given their second vaccine and just under 500,000 for the booster.

The total is just over 1.84m for the BLMK area, with Central Beds the highest for uptake locally, added councillor Stock.

"The primary focus has shifted towards the booster with doses run alongside the seasonal flu vaccination programme.

"Vaccinations have opened up to include booster doses for the 16- and 17-year-olds as well as the clinically extremely vulnerable children.

"Since Christmas the uptake has reduced slightly. This remains the best protection against Covid."

Conservative Ampthill councillor Paul Duckett asked whether claims the injections have weakened the impact of Omicron is "fact or wishful thinking".

Councillor Stock, who's the executive member for health, wellbeing and communities, replied: "We've seen data. It's really high, as 90 per cent of in-patients within intensive treatment units with Covid haven't had their vaccinations.

"Yes, it makes a huge difference. And that's not just locally but on a national scale as well. That's why the best protection is to get vaccinated."

CBC's assistant director of public health Celia Shohet agreed, saying: "You're absolutely right when you look at the evidence of vaccination against hospitalisation it's about 90 per cent effective. So it really does give protection."

Conservative Linslade councillor Gordon Perham referred to "a double edged sword, where it's looking better so people are becoming more complacent, with the Omicron being weaker, and not bothering with the third jab.

"I wonder if we should be saying you've had your second jab and drop them a note saying you should be having your third.

"It's quite a big drop in people from first jab to third who think they've got some sort of safety."

Councillor Stock explained: "I know the CCG has sent out letters via the NHS to people who haven't had the vaccine to encourage them, particularly that younger generation.

"Our own communication has continued to reinforce that message that it's the best protection.

"Our track and trace team were chasing people as well, phoning those who hadn't had their vaccine."

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion, who chairs the committee, said: "The evidence is you're better off getting the vaccine than not."