Number of children aged from 11-16 with Covid-19 in Harborough is more than double the national average

In an interview with the Harborough Mail, the Director of Public Health for Leicestershire says the figures are 'worrying but only tell half the story'

The number of children aged from 11-16 with Covid-19 in Harborough has spiralled to more than double the national average, it’s emerged today.

The rate of coronavirus infection for youngsters in the age group in Harborough district has soared to 1558.2 per 100,000.

That’s more than twice the rate of 735 for England as a whole – although neighbouring Hinckley and Bosworth is even higher at an incredible 2,140.

The number of children aged from 11-16 with Covid-19 in Harborough has spiralled to more than double the national average, it’s emerged today.

And 17-21-year-olds in Harborough are also still faring badly – as their rate of infection is also still running at double the national rate.

Mike Sandys, the Director of Public Health for Leicestershire, has revealed the latest figures as he spoke to the Harborough Mail today.

“It’s clearly worrying that children aged 11-16 across Harborough have been testing positive for Covid so much more than other youngsters throughout the country.

“But the picture for this age group is very much the same right across Leicestershire at the moment,” said Mike.

“And the bare statistics only tell half the story.

“We are much further down the line because our pupils went back to school for the new academic year ahead of just about everyone else up and down England.

“And the provisional figures we’re due to get in the next few days will hopefully show that the rate is starting to come back down again.

“There has been a surge in virus cases over the last fortnight or so – across Leicestershire and the whole East Midlands as well as in Harborough.

“But this is partly due to a rapid increase in testing as kids go back to school,” said the vastly-experienced public health expert.

“Five of our seven districts in Leicestershire are currently in the top 10 worst local authorities anywhere in England.

“And for 11-16-year-olds we have four districts in the top five worst-performing authorities nationally.

“But Harborough isn’t one of them.

“The district is about 30th or 40th in the national league table of 354.

“About half of new cases in Harborough are hitting 10-19-year-olds,” said Mike.

“So it’s obvious that youngsters returning to school have sparked a new surge in cases locally.

“We are also seeing an increase in the 40-49-year-old category – so kids are passing it on to their parents too.

“But people in Harborough are also getting it right in many ways and deserve a pat on the back in some respects.

“The majority of new people testing positive here for the coronavirus are asymptomatic - they’re not showing any symptoms.

“And, of course, we’d far sooner that pupils are tested twice a week and then prove positive than not get tested at all.

“The rate for kids aged from 10-16 in Harborough has shot up since they went back into the classroom.

“But let’s make this clear.

“Our schools are doing a superb job testing students and doing all they can to combat this threat.

“It’s got to be said that some children are also being infected at after-school activities, sports groups, sharing lifts to school, that sort of thing.

“So I’m urgently appealing to both parents and the children themselves to carry on doing all you can to stay safe and keep this virus at bay.

“And if you do get Covid then please do all you can to stop it spreading to your parents, grandparents, siblings and friends,” insisted Mike.

“Make sure that your home is well ventilated, open the windows, keep washing your hands, self-isolate and clean down hard surfaces such as door handles.

“It is worth celebrating the fact that the rate of infection has only gone up by 5 per cent in Harborough in the last week – whereas some other districts in Leicestershire have climbed by 30-35 per cent.

“We will weather this storm.”

The county’s public health chief said the rate of Covid infection right across the board in Harborough was 425 per 100,000 for Friday September 3 to Thursday September 9.

That’s well above the England-wide statistic of 321.4 and East Midlands figure of 383.7 – but well below the rate for Leicestershire of 507.9.

And the picture is still grim locally for young people aged from 17-21 in Harborough after the Mail revealed last month that they had been hit badly.

“The latest data shows that the Covid infection rate for that group in Harborough is 914 per 100,000.

“Again that’s more than twice the England rate of 435 while Leicestershire’s is 426,” said Mike.

“That’s obviously not good.

“But again I hope that we are finally turning the corner and that we are starting to come through the worst of it.”

Asked about the Government’s new breaking schools-based scheme to vaccinate 12-15-year-olds, Mike replied: “It’s very positive.

“My simple message to children is this – please get jabbed.

“I know that parents have to weigh up all the pros and cons, the risks and benefits.

“And the chances of kids falling seriously ill or being killed by Covid are small.

“But children who catch the virus could still suffer long Covid – which nobody wants.

“And getting vaccinated will cut the risk of transmission to your family and mates – so that you’ll be making everyone safer.

“Stepping up to get the vaccination will have a huge impact on you, your school and everyone around you.

“So please get the Covid jab – especially as we head towards the winter – and help us all fight and push back the coronavirus.”