Reasons behind a huge rise in Covid-19 infections among 17-21-year-olds in Harborough - more than double the national average

Mike Sandys, the Director of Public Health for Leicestershire, told the Mail this afternoon: “This is a real worry, there’s no two ways about it."

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 4:15 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 4:16 pm

The Covid-19 infection rate among 17-21-year-olds in Harborough has rocketed to more than double the national average, it’s emerged this afternoon.

An incredible 1,875 young people per 100,000 in the age group have tested positive for the coronavirus throughout the district, the Harborough Mail has been told.

And that’s over twice as many as the figure of 876 for people aged from 17-21 across England as a whole – and the rate of 865 for Leicestershire.

The Covid-19 infection rate among 17-21-year-olds in Harborough has rocketed to more than double the national average, it’s emerged this afternoon.

Teenagers and young people are being particularly hard hit in Harborough as students return to school this week after the long summer break.

Mike Sandys, the Director of Public Health for Leicestershire, told the Mail this afternoon: “This is a real worry, there’s no two ways about it.

“The rate of infection for the 17-21-year-old age group in Harborough is astonishingly high compared to the national figure.

“But I am hoping that this is a temporary blip – and that we will quickly get back on top of it.”

The news has broken as Mike revealed that the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 across the board in Harborough has shot up from 328.7 per 100,000 last Friday (August 20) to 419.7 today (Tuesday).

“That’s quite a steep percentage rise in just the last four days or so and it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly why that is.

“The rate of infection among 11-16-year-olds in Harborough has also climbed to 862 per 100,000,” said the highly-experienced community health chief.

Again that is well above the rate across Leicestershire of 582.8 and the national average for that age group of 443.6.

“Something has suddenly gone awry in Harborough and it’s very difficult to say precisely what that is.

“So – what’s going on?

“We had the A-level results issued on Tuesday August 10 and GCSE results two days later on Thursday August 12,” said Mike.

“No doubt we had a lot of parties thrown right across Harborough as children and their families celebrated their successes.

“They will all have helped to fuel the sharp rise in infections.

“I know that parties will have been held elsewhere in Leicestershire too, of course.

“But maybe teenagers in Harborough did especially well and had even more get-togethers.

“A lot of teenagers have also been away on holiday – and have also been attending big festivals and gigs.

“We know for a fact that up to 40 cases here in the district stem from the Boardmasters music festival down in Newquay in Cornwall alone.

“The weather’s not been so good lately.

“So more teenagers will have been spending more time indoors – watching the TV or on their X-boxes,” said Mike.

“So this dramatic climb in the rate of Covid infection is down, as always, to a special combination of different factors.

“It’s not unsafe for pupils to return to school this week.

“But I’d urge students to be aware that the rates are high at the moment – and be extra cautious.”

The county’s health supremo said that almost all teenagers and young people aged from 15-21 will be living with their parents at home.

“We can’t simply lock them away in their rooms if they have the coronavirus.

“But everybody should be taking sensible precautions to try to stop transmission spreading right throughout the entire family,” said Mike.

“Make sure that your home is well ventilated – open all the windows.

“Keep a safe distance between you and your kids.

“Use separate towels – and continue to wash your hands regularly and properly.

“And wipe down hard surfaces such as door handles to cut the risk of infection.

“The last thing we want is for kids to pass on the virus to their siblings, parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents.

“I’d advise everyone in a family hit by Covid to take the lateral flow test regularly.

“You can’t and shouldn’t stop kids enjoying themselves.

“But we now have the bank holiday weekend coming up with more big music festivals at Leeds and Reading.

“So just try to be sensible – and keep on testing to determine if you are infected or not,” added Mike.

“Make yourself and everyone around you as safe as you can.”

The Leicestershire County Council health boss also implored 16 and 17-year-olds in Harborough to get vaccinated urgently.

“Don’t hesitate – go and get the jab as soon as you can.

“It seriously reduces the chances of falling seriously ill or even dying if you catch Covid.

“The vaccine is the best defence we’ve got – and helps to choke off the risk of transmitting this terrible virus too,” said Mike.

“Getting vaccinated makes you safer – and your entire community safer too.

“Just do not do silly things.

“Let’s stop this sudden dramatic hike in cases now – and let’s stop it moving on up the age range.

“We’ve had glitches and blips like this in Harborough before.

“And every time that’s occurred people have responded well and the figures have fallen again quite quickly.

“Let’s do that again now.”

He said the spiralling rate of local infection is also piling new pressure on to Leicester’s three major hospitals – Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General and Glenfield.

“We can’t forget the impact this is having still on the NHS locally.

“We’ve got about 50 Intensive Care Unit beds in our hospitals.

“And almost half of those, 23, are currently taken up by patients battling Covid,” said Mike.

“And some 70 per cent of those people are aged over 45.

“I suspect we’ll be in for a fairly choppy ride this winter with flu and other seasonal illnesses to come on top of the coronavirus.

“So I’m calling on everyone to act sensibly and responsibly and unite together to stop Covid infection rates rising – and to start to push them back down again.”