Residents are being urged to get vaccinated if they are eligible to slow the spread of the virus, and protect themselves from becoming seriously ill. They are also being urged to continue to wear masks while in shops and on public transport, and to continue washing hands regularly.
Attendance in state schools has also declined and stands at 86% in Peterborough, compared to 88.1% in England overall. In addition, 10.4% of teaching staff in Peterborough were unavailable for work due to Covid – the highest rate in the county.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, Director of Public Health for Peterborough Jyoti Atri said; “Actually, it is pre schools and primary schools where we are seeing the highest rates of transmission at the moment.
We are asking people to test their kids regularly with LFT tests, and now they are just nasal swabs, so they are less risky than they were with throat swabs. We are doing contact tracing, and asking those contacts to test as well.
“We have been very active in managing outbreaks in schools, and that may be partly why we are seeing higher rates here than in other areas.”
Hospitalisation rates are also high at the moment, with latest Government data showing more people are in North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust hospitals - including Peterborough City - than at any time since the end of February last year.
Ms Atri said; “Whilst we have the high rate, that is just going to go up and up, so yes, the high numbers in hospital are of concern.
“Those numbers are made up of three groups of people - those that go in because of COVID - their COVID has made them so sick they’ve had to go into hospital, people who go to hospital for a separate issue and catch COVID in hospital, and people who go in for other reasons and happen to have COVID. With community levels being so high, you would expect to see some incidental COVID in hospitals.
“And then of course, when you’ve got community levels so high, and when you’ve got high rates in primary schools, it means parents can’t go to work, and so the workforce is also impacted.
“All of those reasons together are causing immense pressure in hospitals, because no matter what the reason that you’ve got COVID oin hospital, they will still need to be additional infection control, measures put in place and distancing etc to prevent further spread.”
Ms Atri said it appeared that Omicron was less severe than previous strains - but residents should still take extra precautions, and you were eight times more likely to end up in hospital with a Covid-related illness if you’re unvaccinated.
She said; “I think it is true to say that successive waves that we’ve seen have been less severe, but we’ve also got mass vaccination as part of our response, and that is definitely dampening down the impact of Omicron.
“The ratio of cases to hospitalisations is much lower in this wave than previous waves. But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be another variant that is more severe.
The risks of catching COVID far outweigh any risk from the vaccination programme, and I can see the impact the vaccination programme is having on the reduction of severe disease. There are much fewer people in intensive care now, and there are much fewer people dying than in previous rounds, where we haven’t had as much vaccine.
“So please, please do take up your vaccine> it is so, so important.
“It is also important to remind people that although, nationally, they are removing Plan B restrictions, and are urging people to go back to work, We have the highest rates in the country at teh moment so caution is absolutley needed.
“The things people can do is take up the vaccine when offered it, to test before they go out - rates are so high, to avoid infecting vulnerable people, please carry out an LFT before you go out, and then the usual things we have been advocating, hand washing, keeping away from others, wear a face covering in crowded spaces.”
Councillor Irene Walsh, cabinet member for adult social care, health and public health at Peterborough City Council, said: “The most recent figures for Covid in Peterborough are a clear reminder that we cannot be complacent and that the virus remains prevalent across the city, which is why we all need to be #CovidCautious.
“It is crucial we all play our part in helping to reduce case rates to keep our important public services running as well as possible and to prevent more hospitalisations and deaths.
“I would urge everyone who has yet to get a vaccine or their booster to do so as soon as possible. It is simple to do, safe, and will help save lives.”
Information on where to get a Covid vaccine can be found at: https://www.thevaccinators.co.uk/.
Details on how to get free lateral flow tests can be found at: https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/healthcare/public-health/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19-rapid-community-testing.