Covid statistics 'not the same as before' as testing guidelines change, says Hampshire health expert

THE number of Covid-19 cases in Hampshire is continuing to decline - but soon the statistics might not tell the full picture.

Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 8:02 pm

Each month, Hampshire County Council's local outbreak engagement board meets to debrief senior councillors on the state of coronavirus in Hampshire.

Yesterday statistics presented by the county council showed that the rate of infections is continuing to decrease.

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The entrance to the lateral flow testing centre in the Guildhall, Portsmouth. Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

But as government restrictions and guidelines continue to change, there are concerns that limited testing will skew the figures published by the government.

The county council's associate director of public health, Johanna Jefferies, said: 'In terms of the infection rate, there has been a decrease across the county, but the burden of infections nationally is still highest in the south.

'The growth rate for infections across the south east now sits somewhere in between minus five and zero, which is a big change from January.

'While there has definitely been a real decrease, the number of people testing themselves for Covid-19 has also dropped. This means what we're able to measure in terms of positive cases is not the same as before.'

On April 1, free testing for members of the public will no longer be available, either by PCR or lateral flow.

Testing sites across the county will also close.

There are currently 362 people in hospital due to Covid-19, down by 70 from the previous week.

For Hampshire County Council, the focus is now largely on vaccinations, with councillors being informed about smaller doses for young children.

Ms Jefferies said: 'Our key message is that the most recent changes are likely to see an increased transmission, but with testing changes it may be harder to measure that.

'We must continue to encourage people to be personally responsible and be considerate to others - that includes vaccinations.

'There will be a national demobilisation programme to close the local and regional testing centres, but local authorities will continue to play a role with targeted action in areas where the vaccine uptake is still lower than desired.

'For younger children between the ages of five and 11, with no underlying health conditions, there will be a lower dose of the vaccine that's available.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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