Cambridge has experienced a huge spike in coronavirus cases, fuelled by infections among university students.
For the week to November 13, the city recorded 358 cases – up 204 on the previous week, a rise of 133 per cent.
Of these, 135 were in Central and West Cambridge, while 74 were in Eddington and Castle – both areas featuring large numbers of students.
The University of Cambridge’s testing regime found 234 cases from November 9-15, more than three times than 70 recorded the previous week and by far the highest number since its screening began in October.
Of the latest cases, 80 were asymptomatic while 154 had symptoms. Just eight of those testing positive were staff.
Elsewhere in the city, government data shows Romsey had 30 cases in the seven days to November 13, while East Barnwell and Abbey had 18. On the city fringe, Girton and Barton – which also features a significant student population – had 38 cases.
The figures for the week gave Cambridge its highest infection rate to date of 286.9 cases per 100,000 – higher than Liverpool, which recorded 280.3 cases per 100,000 for the same period. Liverpool entered the highest tier of government restrictions prior to the national lockdown.
Central and East Cambridge’s own infection rate rocketed to 891.7 per 100,000 – much highest than the majority of the country – although the relatively small population involved means the figure will fluctuate significantly from week to week. Most areas of Cambridge showed an increase that week.
But there will be some hope, however, that by students self-isolating within their colleges or accommodation blocks, and the lockdown in place from November 5, the wider population may avoid similar spikes.
In Bar Hill and Boxworth, a neighbouring area to badly-hit Girton and Barton, there were 0-2 cases in the week.
Government data analysed by the Cambridge Independent shows that more than half of infections in Cambridge in the period from October 22 to November 17 affected those aged 15-24.
Of 799 confirmed cases in the city during the period, 756 (95 per cent) affected those aged under 60 and only 42 (five per cent) affected over-60s. There were only 10 cases (1.3 per cent) in over-70s, the group most at risk of a severe infection or death from Covid-19.
There will be hopes that the worst of the spike seen in the seven days to November 13 has past. Daily data fluctuates, but shows Monday November 9 was the worst for confirmed cases, with 87 testing positive. On Sunday November 15, meanwhile, there were 24, with seven on Monday November 16.
South Cambridgehire did see a rise in cases during the week to November 13, with 190, up 36, which put the infection rate at 119.4 cases per 100,000.
Cottenham recorded 15 cases, up 10, while Histon, Impington and Orchard Park had 20 cases, up two. This week, it was confirmed that there were about 10 cases among sixth-formers at Impington Village College and Impington International College.
East Cambridgeshire, meanwhile, continued to avoid the worst effects, with 65 cases in the week to November 13, up one on the previous week, taking the infection rate to 72.4 cases per 100,000 – among the lowest in the country. Of these cases, 15 were in North Ely.
Elsewhere in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire recorded 219 cases in the week to November 13, up 57, taking the infection rate to 123.1 per 100,000, while Fenland had 136 cases, up 59, taking the infection rate to 133.5. Peterborough recorded 447 cases, up 117 week-on-week, and had an infection rate of 221 per 100,000.
Nationally another 19,609 cases were confirmed on Wednesday (November 18).
Earlier today, a Public Health England director said the public will need to make “every effort” to keep coronavirus cases low in December in order to gather during the festive season.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the government’s Covid-19 response, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if curbs are to be eased for a time.
She told a Downing Street briefing: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.
“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the…