Plea for vigilance on social distancing as schools return and coronavirus infection rates rise

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Hampshire County Council is urging residents to continue social distancing measures

HAMPSHIRE health bosses are urging residents to stick to social distancing guidelines as schools welcome back children amid climbing Covid infection rates locally.

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The county council is issuing a reminder that following advice is “critical in preventing a return to lockdown” and comes as schools throughout the New Forest and Christchurch open fully this week after five months of lockdown and summer holidays.

Simon Bryant, HCC’s director of public health said rises in infection rates had been particularly notable among those aged 15-29.

“As a county we are in a relatively good place currently, with comparatively low numbers of confirmed cases of the virus. However, this could change quickly if we aren’t vigilant.

“In particular, we are seeing small increases in infection rates, especially among young people, some of whom are returning from holiday abroad, and in others who are socialising beyond boundaries.”

He added: “With thousands coming together in ways we haven’t seen since the spring, September will be an exciting time for many, but please be smart – keep your distance, wash your hands – you can never do this too often, and wear face coverings, wherever and whenever you’re asked to do so.”

The New Forest has seen six weeks without a coronavirus death, but last week saw an extra 17 infection cases, jumping from 10 for the previous seven days.

Mr Bryant is also reminding residents of the importance of self-isolate when requested.

“The prospect of having to keep yourself away from others for up to two weeks may be frustrating for some, particularly if you have just returned to college or to your workplace, but without a vaccine, it’s one of the very few ways we have to keep control of the virus and stop it spreading.

“The virus can have quite a long incubation period so sticking to the full 10 or 14 days is critical to avoid passing it on.”

For more information visit www.hants.gov.uk/coronavirus

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