More than half of Covid cases in the region are the new variant, health chiefs say

More than half of Covid cases in the region are the new variant, said health chiefs as they warned about the stark rise in infection rates.

David Evans, joint accountable officer for Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups, told a meeting of its board yesterday that the situation was "increasingly challenging".

"Prevalence rates are significantly higher now than they have been previously and more worryingly have gone up very quickly over the past couple of weeks, particularly since Christmas," he said.

Updating the governing body, director of corporate affairs Sam Tilley said: "Increases in prevalence rates have been fairly stark and in the lead up to Christmas and since Christmas, with some of the largest daily increases in reported cases that we've seen during the pandemic.

"There are some fluctuations in those rates that are now starting to appear.

"It's still too early to call this as a downward trend but we are hoping that is what it's going to translate into as a result of the lockdown measures."

Liz Noakes, director of public health for Telford & Wrekin, said the borough had reached an infection rate of 555 per 100,000 people.

She warned there was particular concern in older age groups.

"The rate of increase has slowed slightly in the 'all age group' but unfortunately in the over 60s continues at pace and in the last seven days has doubled and now stands at 404 per 100,000," she said.

"That is the real concern, particularly for the NHS going forward."

She said Telford and Wrekin was now the sixth highest in the West Midlands in terms of seven day infection rates.

"We all recognise how serious the situation is," she added.

"In terms of new variant, it's estimated now that more than half of cases are probably new variant now."

Dr Julian Povey, chair of the CCGs, said the rates were 'frightening' and urged people to stay home as much as they can and follow the lockdown rules.

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire's director of public health, said there had also been a sharp increase in infection rates in Shropshire Council's area and urged people to get Covid tests if they needed to.

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