Oxford back on amber alert as local coronavirus cases mirror national rise

People in Oxfordshire are being advised to only get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms as the level of positive cases in Oxford mean the city is once again on amber alert.

The number of cases in the city currently stands at 25.6 per 100,000 of the population. The figure for the whole of Oxfordshire is 14.3 per 100,000

The figures for Oxford rose to amber alert level in mid to late August but then fell back again. An amber alert happens when cases rise above 25 per 100,000 of the population.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “Since Oxford’s cases last rose to amber, there has been a large rise in cases across the entire country. The Government has instigated its “rule of six” in an attempt to tackle this rise and I appeal to everyone in Oxfordshire to abide by this new rule.

“Only by cutting down the number of close interactions between individuals can we stop the spread of this virus. That has been seen very clearly throughout the world.

“The Government is seeking to get on top of this current national rise in cases without having to resort to a full national lockdown of the kind we saw earlier this year.

“Locally, if we want to avoid the tighter restrictions that we have seen in the north-west, our best strategy is to follow the rule of six to the letter and to keep doing those basics – wash your hands, keep your distance and wear a facemask. Collectively, the situation is in our own hands – as individuals, families, colleagues and neighbours.

“When Oxford was last at amber status, that put us in the top 20 in the country for COVID cases. Now we are nowhere near that top group – but we have seen how quickly things can change. If we don’t take the rule of six seriously, we could be at the top of that league table in the blink of an eye, with local lockdown measures in place. Let’s not go there.

Only get a test if you have symptoms

Meanwhile public health teams at councils across the country are aware of well-publicised issues regarding the availability of COVID-19 testing. There is a national issue with testing capacity, which is due to rising demand, and it is affecting all parts of the country. Public health directors across the country are continuing to highlight this problem to central Government.

Testing is a crucial part of limiting the spread of the virus. It protects communities and provides the opportunity to create a full picture of how the virus is spreading within communities.