Concern over 'freedom day' as Covid cases among young people in Portsmouth soar

CONCERNS have been raised over the so-called Covid ‘freedom day’ next week, as ‘frightening’ figures show cases among teenagers and young adults in Portsmouth soaring.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 5:35 pm

The latest breakdown of coronavirus cases in the city has shown a ‘huge’ spike among those aged between 20 and 24, with 148 instances recorded in the week of July 1 - equivalent to 616.8 cases per 100,000 people in that age group.

And one Covid case has been identified in a child aged under five.

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Mask wearers in Palmerston Rd, Southsea on July 5, 2021. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 030721-18)

Cases have also surged in those aged between 15 and 19, with 61 new cases that week and nine new cases on July 7 - or 430.4 out of 100,000.

Overall, young people in the city now have the largest number of cases, signalling a new trend compared to previous months.

In the first surge of coronavirus, from March to May in 2020 the majority of cases were recorded within people aged 80 and over - with very few children affected.

And in the second surge in December and January this year, those aged 25 and over were mainly affected.

Portsmouth council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, believed restrictions should not be dropped on July 19 in light of the data.

‘The figures are frightening,’ he said. ‘I think there are going to be significant problems.

‘In the most recent briefing we had across the country we are expecting hospital admissions of 1,000 a day and 400 deaths a day in the autumn.

‘I think the government is taking an enormous risk with our health with these decisions.

‘I think we have got a problem nationwide with not enough young people coming forward to have their vaccines as well.’

In comparison there were 71 new cases of Covid recorded in people aged between 25 and 29 in the week of July 1, and 44 in those between 30 and 34.

There was only one case identified that week in those aged 85 and above in Portsmouth.

Dominique Le Touze, a consultant in public health at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Cases are rising in all age groups as expected with the easing of restrictions at step three and with the more transmissible Delta variant now dominant. In particular, we've seen increases in the younger age groups, as they've had to wait their turn for the Covid-19 vaccination and they may attend education settings and service sector work settings, where mixing with others is less avoidable.

‘Remaining cautious, choosing to wear face coverings in crowded and indoor spaces and continuing to regularly wash our hands are actions we can all take to limit the spread of infection. Getting both doses of the vaccine and getting into the habit of testing twice a week will protect you and your loved ones.’

Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed this week that lockdown restrictions, including the mandatory use of face masks, will still end as planned on July 19.

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