South Oxfordshire remains in Government’s Tier 1 Covid-19 (medium level) despite Council leaders and health officials wanting the district to be part of Oxfordshire as a whole.
Oxford city will be moved into the government’s ‘high’ or tier 2 alert level after a further rise in cases of COVID-19 – meaning that the city’s residents will need to abide by new rules from Saturday 31 October.
Rates per 100,000 in Oxford city rose to 137.1 for the week ending 23 October. For Oxfordshire as a whole, the rate was 117.5 for the same period.
The rest of the county remains at tier 1 or ‘medium’ level – although figures here too continue to rise. Cases per 100,000 are 151.5 in Cherwell, 92.2 in South Oxfordshire, 91.2 in Vale of White Horse and 109.4 in West Oxfordshire.
Evidence continues to show that, in the past three weeks, the virus has spread to a much wider age range across the county and is no longer confined to younger people in urban areas. Hospital admissions have begun to increase as a result.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The continued rise in numbers across the county has once more been discussed with central government and Public Health England and it has been agreed that this is the appropriate moment for Oxford move to tier 2.
“However, we remain seriously concerned about the rise in the number of cases across the county, and not just Oxford. We are deeply disappointed that despite clear evidence showing the virus is now spreading to older and more vulnerable communities across the county, our request that Oxfordshire as a whole should move to tier 2 was not approved.
“My five fellow local authority leaders and I firmly believe this is a necessary step to stem the spread of the virus, protect our communities and the Oxfordshire economy. Our position has the full backing of the chief executives of our NHS partners and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and we will continue to push for a move for the rest of the county to happen as soon as possible based on the epidemiological evidence.”
Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have moved from a position of low and stable hospital admission rates over the summer to one in which admission rates are increasing. We know there is a time lag between rising cases and an increase in hospital admissions, and so we expect to see a further increase in hospitalisation rates over the coming weeks.”
Councillor Sue Cooper, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “It is very disappointing that government has not responded to help us move into tier 2. We know from discussions with our NHS colleagues that the virus is spreading across all age groups throughout Oxfordshire, putting our most vulnerable residents as risk. Data shows us that cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise, so we urge everyone to help prevent the spread by remaining vigilant and following government guidance.”