Children have highest Covid-19 infection rates in Hampshire, figures reveal
CHILDREN are the ones who are now most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, figures have shown.
Statistics published by Public Health England show that since schools returned in September, the five to nine-year-old and 10 to 14-year-old age brackets have seen the highest rolling rate of cases.
As of December 2, Hampshire' s seven-day rolling infection rate, per 100,000, stood at 1,647.5 for 10-14s, and 1,687.5 for five-nines.
On September 1 these figures stood at 598.9 and 329.1 respectively.
The county council's director of public health, Simon Bryant, said: 'With regards to Covid-19 we are seeing increased rates across Hampshire among our young people.
'Young people are mixing more and haven't had their full vaccination yet, so that's why we are seeing this spread.'
Mr Bryant added that the second vaccine will be given out to students after the Christmas holidays, thus fulfilling the 12-week waiting period between vaccinations.
This, he admitted, will be 'disruptive' for pupils but thanked the schools for their co-operation.
Last week, three cases of the new Omicron Covid variant were found at Hatch Warren Junior School in Basingstoke.
The county council has confirmed that the individuals involved are isolating, and key contacts are being traced, tested and provided with guidance on the self-isolation requirements to protect the public.
But Mr Bryant warned that until further testing, the county council will err on the side of caution.
'We've done some work to manage the situation in Basingstoke because we don't know how this new variant will affect things,' he said.
'Regardless of vaccination status we have put stronger isolation guidelines in place – we don't know what this variant is capable of until further testing is carried out.
'What we know for certain is that the Omicron variant is more transmissible, and that is concerning.
'It's likely our approach to the variant will change as we understand it further.'
Across the NHS trusts in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, there are currently 274 people in hospital with Covid-19.
Although no figures are available, Mr Bryant estimates that roughly half of these people are unvaccinated.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Keith Mans, said: 'We have to keep the message clear and simple.
'I also fear we're not doing ourselves any favours by having such an open-minded and tolerant approach.'