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Caution urged as West Berkshire coronavirus cases rise

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“This isn't over, and there does need to be caution and restraint." That was the warning from West Berkshire Council officials after a spike in coronavirus cases in West Berkshire.

The district’s infection rate per 100,000 now stands at 308, with 488 cases in the seven days to July 15.

Communities and wellbeing service director Matt Pearce stressed the need for caution from residents at Monday’s meeting of West Berkshire Council’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board.

The Kennet Shopping vaccination centre in Newbury.
The Kennet Shopping vaccination centre in Newbury.

While affirming the success of local initiatives, Mr Pearce said: "We are seeing a lot of cases in schools, as we head towards the end of the summer term both in primary and secondary schools.

"We have seen, over the last couple of weeks, particular outbreaks in Hungerford, Burghfield and Mortimer, Newbury Greenham and Tilehurst.

"Clearly, we are seeing that cases are increasing rapidly. This is likely going to continue until the end of August, and, clearly, we are in the third wave.

"As we move to Step 4, I think it's important to say that this isn't over, and there does need to be caution and restraint."

Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), executive member for children, young people and education, has written to school staff and parents across the district thanking them for their support throughout the year. He praised everyone for stepping up to the challenges of remote learning.

Monday also saw the easing of pandemic restrictions nationwide and council leader, Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen) urged residents to continue with testing, whether that was lateral flow if they are asymptomatic, or a PCR test if they have any symptoms.

She added: “We recognise that a lot of people feel very happy but we are still advising a sensible approach.

“We are also making sure we encourage people to continue with the use of face masks and sensible social distancing when inside.

“The most important thing is to encourage everybody to get vaccinated.”

Latest government figures, up to July 19, show that 206,605 vaccinations have been administered in West Berkshire.

Data presented at Monday’s meeting, showed a slight increase in hospital admissions at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, with 18 new Covid-related hospitalisations between July 5 and July 11.

On July 13, there were six confirmed coronavirus patients in Trust-managed hospitals - one of them receiving assisted ventilation.

At the same meeting it was revealed that isolation calls - whether from the NHS app or track and trace facilities - were up in West Berkshire, with 1,200 orders issued to residents in July so far. By contrast, 470 were handed down in May and 672 in June.

Council leader Lynne Doherty will take part in a Facebook live event to update residents on the local response to Covid-19 and the work to recover from the pandemic.

There will also be an opportunity to put your questions to her during the event.

It begins at 5pm on July 26 on the council’s Facebook page.

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