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23 December 2021

Covid infections rise as Omicron spread continues

Cumbria saw a 31% increase in new COVID-19 infections in week ending 17 December, up to 1,956 from 1,492 the previous week, as the Omicron variant continued to spread. However the rate of increase has slowed down in recent days meaning that case numbers are not as high as some projections suggested they might be.

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:

“While case rates are still rising quite sharply, it is encouraging to see that they are not quite as high as we thought they might be. There are several factors that might have contributed to this, including school holidays, home working and people taking sensible precautions in the light of what they’re hearing about omicron.

“While lower than expected infections is welcome news, I’m very cautious about the data - there’s no reason why Cumbria should be all that different to the rest of the country, so I think we can expect to see cases continuing to rise significantly over the coming days.

“That’s why my strong advice remains for people to be cautious over the Christmas period and take steps to protect themselves and their communities; get vaccinated, test before you meet people and follow all the infection prevention advice of hand washing, masks, ventilation and social distancing.”

In response to recent published studies suggesting that the risk of serious illness as a result of the Omicron variant may be significantly lower, Mr Cox said:

“It is positive news that the risk to individuals from Omicron may be lower but given the fact it spreads so quickly, and many people are being infected, we could still see a high number of people needing hospital care. This would put even more strain on an already stretched health and social care system. That’s why it still makes sense for people to do all they can to protect themselves and slow the spread.”

Key points from this week’s COVID-19 situation report were:

  • Infection rates in all districts were below the national and regional average rates (England 855 and North West 660 new cases per 100k population);
  • For the 4th week in a row South Lakeland had the greatest number of new cases (+429 new cases);
  • Barrow-in-Furness had the highest rate of new cases (504 new cases per 100k population), followed by Copeland (454 new cases per 100k population);
  • Number of new cases increased in all districts, with Allerdale having the greatest increase of +77%.
  • New cases increased significantly by 151% in the 19-24 age group, 110% in the 25-29 age group, and 65% in the 30-39 age group;

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    Cumbria saw a 31% increase in new COVID-19 infections in week ending 17 December, up to 1,956 from 1,492 the previous week, as the Omicron variant continued to spread.