How health chiefs are dealing with the Covid outbreak in Leamington - and why they are remaining optimistic
It is worth remembering that local hospitals are not seeing significant rises in patients and the vaccine rollout is still going very well
The spike in Covid cases is continuing in Leamington - with health chiefs working closely with the University of Warwick to help bring the rates back down.
They are now confident that an outbreak at the university is the key driver of the increase in town.
However, it is worth remembering that local hospitals are not seeing significant rises in patients and the vaccine rollout is still going very well - most cases are among younger people who have not yet been vaccinated.
According to the latest figures, the Warwick district has recorded 345 cases over the seven days up to June 23 (over 200 per cent rise), which means it currently has an average rate of 240 cases per 100,000 - one of the highest rates in the Midlands.
The Leamington Brunswick ward is still has the highest rate, with 95 cases - giving it a rate of 868.6 cases per 100,000 people.
However, all areas of Leamington are now seeing rises in Covid cases - which is consistent with overall national picture.
Talking about the rise in cases, Dr Shade Agboola, director of Public Health at Warwickshire County Council, said: "There has been a particular rise in cases associated with the university site and student communities living in Leamington.
"However, we are also seeing cases rise in other areas of the county also, consistent with national picture of increases. Whilst a number of the cases within that area are attributed to the university site, the increasing rate is consistent with the national picture.
“To reduce further transmission within the community, we are working closely with key partners in the university, Coventry City Council, Public Health England and the NHS. PCR testing is being made available to those living on or visiting the university site.
"All confirmed cases identified to date are self-isolating and all contacts are being traced. In addition to testing, university students are being encouraged to take up the offer of the free vaccination. The main advice remains to follow the guidance of hands, face, space and fresh air.”
For the past few months, the Warwick district is has enjoyed lower rates of Covid cases so any sudden increases are likely to stand out.
Dr Agboola added: “With the measures that we have taken, such as enhanced testing and the roll-out of the vaccination programme, the number of positive cases has recently been low in the south of the county.
"With numbers being relatively low, any outbreak stands out, and we are expecting numbers to increase as we carry out wider testing, for the purposes of outbreak control
"Now that the vaccination programme is available to university students, and with this increased testing and reinforcement of key infection control measures, we are aiming to minimise and ultimately reduce the number of cases we are seeing with the university and wider community."
The University of Warwick said that it has taken many measures to control the outbreak.
A spokesperson for the university said: "After a long period of very few reported Covid-19 cases among our student and staff population we have seen an increase both on off campus and on campus students.
"This clearly matches some of the increases being seen among across England in populations of young people who have only just begun to be able to access vaccinations.
"We have therefore been working closely with WCC Public Heath to continue to promote vaccinations and to provide enhanced PCR based Covid-19 testing for students and Warwick staff living on, or regularly visiting, campus at least until the university term ends on July 2.
"We are significantly increasing the PCR testing opportunities on campus for people who may have Covid-19 but are not currently experiencing symptoms.
"The PCR test is being used as it the most accurate test and the one that can be analysed to identify new variants by checking the genetic material of the virus in the sample."
The university already has a symptomatic PCR testing service at Gibbet Hill but on top of that it has also set up additional mobile asymptomatic testing sites nearby - including one at Court Street Car park in Leamington.
The spokesperson added: "We have also arranged for any students who do need to self-isolate so they can stay at no additional cost on campus if they need to isolate beyond their accommodation contract which often normally would end on July 3 (the last term of the academic year ends the previous day on July 2)."