Surge testing: Wakefield Council explains why local Covid rates appear to have tripled in a week as Delta cases rise

Wakefield Council has urged people to "remain vigilant" about Covid amid a rise in case rates - but also explained why the case rate appears to have risen so sharply.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 4:54 pm

The latest Covid-19 figures for the district reveal that case rate has more than tripled in recent days.

The most recent data, which covers the period up to Wednesday, June 23, shows that the rate of infection stands at 205 per 100,000 people, up from 82.7 the previous week.

But Coun Maureen Cummings, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty and Health, said this sharp rise could be attributed to increased testing in the district in recent days.

Wakefield Council has urged people to "remain vigilant" about Covid amid a rise in case rates - but also explained why the case rate appears to have risen so sharply.
Wakefield Council has urged people to "remain vigilant" about Covid amid a rise in case rates - but also explained why the case rate appears to have risen so sharply.

Wakefield Council last week confirmed it had partnered with NHS Test and Trace to launch a surge testing programme in the district, with increased testing in ares with particularly high case rates.

All over-18s in certain areas are now being urged to book a PCR test, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms of the virus or not.

Coun Cummings, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty and Health, said: “We are aware that our additional testing programme, particularly on those who are not showing any symptoms, has contributed to the steep rise in cases this week.

“We are continuing with our programme of increased testing as well as continuing to promote vaccination in areas experiencing high cases of the Delta variant, through proactive measures including door knocking.

"It’s more important than ever that we all remain vigilant, follow the latest guidance and get our vaccine when asked.”

Why does surge testing affect case rates?

Surge testing helps to identify people who have contracted Covid-19 but are not displaying symptoms - a group who are estimated to account for around two-thirds of all cases.

This means that people are made aware that they are infectious, and are able to begin self-isolating to prevent passing on the virus.

But this also means that case rates may appear artificially inflated from previous weeks, when these asymptomatic cases were not being picked up.

This, along with the spread of the more-infectious Delta variant, is believed to account for the large rise in case rates in recent weeks.

In Wakefield, there have been 790 confirmed cases of the Delta variant up to June 25, the most recent period for which figures are available.

There are currently 16 Covid-19 patients being cared for by The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, compared to 19 the previous week.

Anna Hartley, Director of Public Health for the Wakefield district, said: “Infection rates have increased significantly as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise. We are actively monitoring the situation and taking all necessary action.

“To limit the spread of the virus, our advice to residents continues to be: Check your eligibility for your Covid-19 vaccination at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccination. If you are eligible, please take it up without delay.

"If you have Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) you must isolate immediately and take a PCR test.

"If you believe you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, arrange a PCR test immediately.

"Remember HANDS, FACE, SPACE, FRESH AIR.

"Where possible meet people outside your household outdoors or in well-ventilated places.”