Young people hit by the highly-infectious virus are spectacularly “spiking” Harborough’s figures because they are not registering with medical centres after moving away.
Mike Sandys, the director of public health for Leicestershire, told the Harborough Mail: “Students who are leaving Harborough to study at colleges and universities elsewhere in this country are definitely having an impact on the district’s Covid-19 rate.
“This scenario is certainly a factor that’s got to be taken into account.”
The county’s health chief stressed: “This is happening because students are not registering with their local medical centres when they go away.
“So they are still registered with medical centres in Market Harborough or Lutterworth or where ever in Harborough if and when they test positive for the coronavirus.
“And as a result that clearly pushes the rate up for Harborough.
“This student situation affects Harborough more than any other district in the county as a high percentage of young people are leaving to go on to higher education somewhere else.”
Mike said that the latest Covid-19 rate for Harborough on the afternoon of Monday October 19 was 100.2 cases per 100,000.
“That has come down slightly over the last week or two.
“But take out the students and that rate drops quite significantly to 78.9 per 100,000.
“And that’s just about half the national rate of 160,” he said.
Mike is now urging students to make sure that they do re-register with surgeries when they do move away in the autumn.
“Primarily it’s better for them because it may well come in handy if they do test positive for the virus,” he said.
“And it obviously means that we have got more accurate statistics for Harborough.”
Mike said that older teenagers and young people across the board – and not just students – are being hit by dramatically higher rates of Covid-19.
“The rate for 17-21-year-olds across Harborough is 498 cases per 100,000.
“That’s more than six times the rate of 78 per 100,000 for the rest of the district’s population,” he said.
“Maybe that’s because young people have been going to more parties, seeing their mates more and taking part in sport.
“So we’d just urge everyone in Harborough again to do what they can to combat this virus.
“Please continue to wash your hands, keep your social distance and wear a face covering.
“Let’s all unite to do what we can to stop Covid-19 spreading across Harborough.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads Harborough council’s Liberal Democrats, told the Mail: “This is a big worry because student virus cases are spiking and seriously distorting our figures here in Harborough.
“I’m imploring all of our students to re-register with medical centres when they go away.
“And so if they are infected with the coronavirus those cases won’t affect and skew the rate here in Harborough.”
Phil spoke as a new report for Leicestershire County Council shows that coronavirus cases are 10 times higher than in September.
And they have trebled just since the start of October.
The startling update, being considered by the county council’s cabinet on Tuesday (October 20), warns it’s crucial that everyone plays their part to stop Covid-19 spreading.
The study also sets out the extensive work of the authority to tackle the biggest health crisis in a generation and boost the local economy.
• Monitoring data to spot trends and target hotspots – and launching a new behaviour change called ‘it’s down to us’
• Taking enforcement action against business – notices have been served on three premises so far
• Launching a new £750,000 cash pot to support small businesses – around £400,000 has already been awarded.
The council is also exploring how it can help people build up skills to secure jobs, support the Government’s Kickstart apprenticeship scheme and further roll out broadband to rural areas.
Council leader Nick Rushton said: “I’m very proud of the way the people of the county have come together to tackle the impact of coronavirus. “Local government has taken the leading role in keeping people safe, delivering food parcels and shielding and safeguarding vulnerable children and adults.
“Our recovery grants are helping small businesses to bounce back – but we can and should be going further.”
He added: “I want to do all we can to ensure that the economic bounce back is swift.
“This means investing in apprenticeships and getting people the skills and support that they need in the tough times that lie ahead.”
Cllr Lee Breckon, cabinet member for health, said: “Staff from across the council are working round-the-clock to support and protect our residents – and I want to thank them for their ongoing commitment.
“Although coronavirus hospital admissions remain low compared to other areas, they are beginning to rise.
“Make no mistake, this is a crucial phase.
“And it’s never been more important to follow the national and local guidance.
“By doing so, we can stop cases spreading to our most vulnerable residents.”
The report will be discussed by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday October 20 - watch online at www.leicestershire.gov.uk/webcast