190 new coronavirus cases in Forest amid speculation Christchurch faces Tier 2 lockdown

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The last three weeks’ figures have seen increases of 72, 133 and 190 (picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

THE rate of new coronavirus cases in the New Forest is continuing to accelerate as the pandemic total in the area passed 1,000, government figures show.

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There were 190 new cases in the district as of Tuesday, compared with 133 the previous week and 72 before that – bringing the combined number to 1,056 this year.

The infection rate per 100,000 people is 84.4 in the New Forest – compared with 546.5 in Liverpool which is under the highest Tier 3 restrictions.

In the BCP Council area, which includes Christchurch, the number of cases registered so far hit 3,357 on Tuesday – up by 845 on the week before, compared with a previous weekly rise of 578. The rate per 100,000 people stood at 181.9.

The most recent week of separate fatality figures, compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed there has been four further Covid-19 deaths in the conurbation, all in hospital, putting the total at 196.

The results come amid speculation the conurbation may move into Tier 2 lockdown.

Speaking to the BBC, Dorset’s director for public health said a decision “would be made over the next few days” but a spokesman for Public Health Dorset said “no decision had been made”, and BCP Council’s leader said the move “had not been discussed”.

Sam Crowe, the county’s director for public health, said: “If the rate doesn’t stabilise and if it doesn’t come down, we will need to take additional actions and, obviously, moving to Tier 2 is the next step in that contain framework,” he said. “There will be a decision by government.”

A spokesman for Public Health Dorset said that “no decision has been made” on moving the conurbation into Tier 2 but that “we are keeping things under constant review”.

Leader of BCP Council, Cllr Drew Mellor, said the prospect of a move into Tier 2 restrictions “had not been discussed” and that work required to do so had not been carried out.

He said there had been “no pressure” from the government with the area still below the average rate of infections for England.

Tier 2 restrictions include a ban on people meeting socially indoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble. This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

For the fifth consecutive week, there were no deaths reported in the New Forest, leaving the pandemic death toll in the district at 133.

The provisional figures from the ONS relate to cause of death for fatalities up to 16th October but which were registered up to 24th October.

On Tuesday the regional R-rates – the average number of people infected from someone with the coronavirus – were in the range of 1.2-1.5 for the south-east. In the south-west it was 1.3-1.6. A rate of more than one indicates the pandemic is growing.

For information and support, phone the Hampshire Coronavirus Support and Helpline on 0333 370 4000.

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