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Young people in Basildon are being urged to follow guidance on social distancing following a recent rise in levels of infection in the area.
Parents are also being asked to make sure their children are aware of the current guidance and following this while in and outside of schools and education settings.
The latest data published by Public Health England has revealed a sharp increase in the case rate, with Basildon now having one of the highest rates nationally at over 285 cases per 100,000.
Infection is particularly prevalent in the 10-18 year age group (secondary school age children and younger adults) with data suggesting up to 40% of cases may be related to schools. However, it is important to note that those that have tested positive, and included in school figures, may have been infected outside of education environments.
Councillor John Spence, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:
“The rise in coronavirus in Basildon is a sobering reminder that there is still work to be done to contain the spread.
“Basildon residents, and particularly families with school age children or young adults at home, need to be more careful than ever to help us halt this rise. Please work from home wherever you can. Stay 2m apart from other people – always assume the person you are near may be infected.”
Testing kits will be offered to parents in areas with the greatest number of cases to test their children. When requested to do so, parents are encouraged to get their child tested.
The identification of cases now will allow prompt action to be taken to reduce the spread in education settings and also minimise the need to be isolating as a contact over Christmas
Texts from Essex Track and Trace will also be sent to residents who are contacts of people who have tested positive, inviting them to have a test which will be sent to homes.
A mobile testing unit is also set to be deployed to Basildon and large employers in the town will be some of the first to receive lateral flow tests in the coming weeks.
Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said:
“We need Basildon residents to play their part and follow the rules at home or outdoors. This is even more important with national lockdown restrictions ending on Wednesday, when Basildon will be in Tier 2.
“If you have any symptoms of Coronavirus, please self-isolate and get a test straight away. If you come into contact with a positive case, you should also self-isolate and if offered a test via local Track and Trace, make sure you take it – this could reduce your period of self-isolation.
“We know that if everyone follows these rules and plays their part in reducing the spread that we can reverse this worrying increase.”
John Baron, MP for Basildon and Billericay, said:
“Essex County Council’s Public Health team are closely monitoring the position in Basildon, along with the borough council, and will take all the necessary steps, including working with parents, schools and youth organisations and offering increased testing to tackle the infection rate in Basildon.
“We all need to play our part and follow the social distancing rules to help get infection levels down so that as lockdown restrictions ease, we are keeping ourselves and those around us at home, work or school safe.”
Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, said:
“Basildon’s residents and businesses have done so much over many months to keep infection rates down, but faced with increasing case levels, we must not be complacent. People of all ages must play their part, keep socially distanced, and remember the hands-face-space rules.
“If we do then we can begin to impact the infection levels we are currently seeing and make sure that local NHS services, in turn, have enough capacity to deal with the increased demand we see during the busier winter months.”
For those concerned about self-isolation, or any other aspect of Covid-19, support is available.
The Essex Wellbeing Service offers advice on how to access shopping slots, the Essential Living Fund, CAB advice and access to food via foodbanks. Find out more here: https://www.essexwellbeingservice.co.uk/ or call 0300 303 9988.