Warning to Portsmouth residents as Covid R rate starts to rise

PORTSMOUTH’S health boss has warned people to stay vigilant as the R rate of coronavirus has gone up.

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 7:00 am

The latest government data shows the R rate, which reflects how many people get infected by one person, in the south east is now between one and 1.2 - based on rates up to two weeks ago.

This means every 10 people with Covid in the area will infect between 10 and 12 others.

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Helen Atkinson, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council

And the growth rate in the south east was recorded as between zero and three per cent, meaning the number of new infections could be broadly flat or going up by three per cent every day.

The average R rate for the rest of the country is also one to 1.2. In the north west this is slightly higher at one to 1.3, and its growth rate is two to five per cent.

An R rate above one indicates infections are rising, whereas an R rate below one shows that the virus is starting to ebb away.

Helen Atkinson director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Increasing case numbers were expected as restrictions are gradually eased and people mix more with others outside of their household.

Portsmouth City Council has installed a number of new signs along Southsea seafront to encourage social distancing April 1, 2021 Picture: Fiona Callingham

‘The vaccination programme has been very successful in reducing serious illness, hospitalisation and deaths in our most vulnerable populations. The programme is on track to have offered all over 18s their first vaccination by the end of July.

‘We expect to see the virus spreading and increased cases in the community but we are hopeful that the success of the vaccination programme will ensure we don’t see the same pressures in the NHS that we saw in the previous waves. There is always the risk that the virus mutates, which is what we are now seeing with the delta variant.’

According to the latest data there have been up to five cases of the delta variant - more commonly known as the Indian variant - recorded in Portsmouth.

The same numbers were reported in Winchester and Fareham, but no figures were given for Havant, Gosport or East Hampshire.

Ms Atkinson added: ‘We're working closely with Public Health England, who are monitoring cases of all variant types emerging through community transmission.

‘Public Health England and our local contact tracing team have followed up with the people concerned, along with their household and close contacts and have arranged for them to self-isolate and get tested. I'd also encourage everyone to take up the offer of free twice weekly lateral flow device tests, as these help us identify those who have the virus but don't have symptoms.

‘It remains incredibly important that anyone with a new continuous cough, high temperature or a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, self-isolates immediately and books a PCR test.

‘Those in their household should also self-isolate until the test result is known. In addition, everyone in the community can help stop the spread by washing your hands with soap regularly for 20 seconds, wearing a face covering, keeping a two metre social distance and letting fresh air in when meeting others indoors.’

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