Corby's Covid cases causing health chiefs sleepless nights ahead of Rule of Six return on Monday
Fears of local lockdown lingering as infection rates continue to rise in the borough
Northamptonshire's health chief admits fears over Corby's rising Covid-19 cases are keeping her awake at night.
Infection rates in the borough hit 200 again last night following a 45 per cent increase in two-and-a-half weeks even though officials say the number of people getting tested has dropped.
The next step in easing lockdown restrictions comes on Monday (March 29) when 'Stay at Home' orders are lifted and the 'Rule of Six' applies outdoors.
Shops, hairdressers and pub gardens are all due to open on April 12, although Boris Johnson insists his roadmap out of lockdown will be driven by data not dates.
Northamptonshire's public health director, Lucy Wightman, said: "Corby continues to keep me awake at night.
"We're still seeing increases in the proportion of tests that are positive and case rates are rising in different age groups — especially in the over-60s in the last couple of days — predominantly as a result of households mixing.
"It is an area where we've clearly got a level of community transmission that's difficult to get on top of.
"Also sadly not seeing as many people come forward for testing as we would want.
"Identifying Covid is how we overcame issues previously in Northampton and during the Greencore outbreak — by getting as many people tested as possible, getting the virus isolated and breaking the chain of infection.
"We are providing as many testing facilities as we can and people know what they should be doing.
"There's nothing we can do to stop people mixing, that's down to them doing the right thing or else risking extending the lockdown even further.
"If you do more testing you will find more cases and I know some people are put off by that. But we need to find all of these cases and reduce how quickly this is spreading around the community."
The Prime Minister wants the next set of rules to be national rather than returning to the local tiers which were in force before Christmas.
Yet pressure is growing for Corby to face further restrictions if cases continue to rise.
Official figures showed the borough's weekly infection rate reached 189.7 by March 18 — the second highest in the UK — having dropped to 124.6 on March 6.
Raw data published daily on the government coronavirus dashboard since then took the rate to 200.8 last night (Tuesday).
There were 137 positive tests in the most recent week for which figures have been confirmed compared to 90 earlier in the month — despite a drop in the number PCR tests from 2,200 a week to around 1,700.
The proportion of tests turning positive has risen from 5.5 per cent to more than seven.
Corby has two rapid testing centres at Lodge Park Sports Centre and Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre where key workers with no coronavirus symptoms can book tests HERE and a major PCR testing centre at James Ashworth Square.
Those with any of the main signs of Covid-19 — a high temperature, new or continuous cough, or a loss or change in the sense of taste — must self-isolate and book a PCR test via the government website HEREto avoid risking passing on the virus.