'Unreal': One in 16 Kettering children test positive for Covid in a week as school cases rise

Kettering currently has the highest overall coronavirus case rate in England

By Sam Wildman
Friday, 1st October 2021, 2:24 pm
Kettering's rolling rate for those aged 10-14 - with a huge recent spike. Credit: @ProfColinDavis
Kettering's rolling rate for those aged 10-14 - with a huge recent spike. Credit: @ProfColinDavis

A staggering one in 16 Kettering children aged between 10 and 14 have now tested positive for Covid in just one week as school cases continue to rise.

The shockingly high numbers - equivalent to about two youngsters in every single school class - mean the district's case rate for those in the age bracket stood at more than 6,200 per 100,000 as of September 29.

Earlier this week we reported that the rate for the age group, at that time, was 4,227 per 100,000, described by an epidemiologist as "simply shocking".

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Mathematical biologist Kit Yates, who works at the University of Bath, described Kettering's case rate in children as "unreal". The district's overall case rate for all ages is currently still the highest in England.

Many schools in the area have re-introduced the wearing of face masks in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The county's director or public health Lucy Wightman, who previously said Kettering's cases were mainly from community transmission, has now urged parents of Covid-positive children to play their part by providing as much detail as possible when contacted by Test and Trace workers so they can "map the spread".

She said: “Parents of Covid-19 positive under 18s can play an important part in keeping the school community safe, as well as their wider communities, by fully engaging with the contact tracing information asked for by Test and Trace. Unlike adults who can opt to provide information online, younger people's information is only collected over the telephone and you might well not know what to expect.

“For our local contact tracers, the biggest problems are around activity data and locations. Parents and guardians will be asked for activity data for the last two weeks including school attendance, out of school clubs, overnight stays, as well as visits to leisure/retail/hospitality venues and friends’ houses. They will need to provide as much contact data as possible, especially when it comes to overnight stays, sleepovers, and out of school clubs, so we can map the spread of the disease.

“Contact details of potential close contacts will also be asked for. If numbers or addresses are not available, then at the very least names should be given as Test and Trace cannot get this information from schools.

“Finally household contact details will also be needed. This is part of standard contact tracing procedure for all infectious diseases, this allows us to identify and take preventative action to contain any spread. It is perfectly okay to ask the tracers to call back later if you are still gathering some information together. But please do engage and provide this vital information which could enable us to stem further spread.”

On Monday we asked all six secondary schools in the district to comment on the number of cases they had and the measures they were taking.

Only Southfield School and Kettering Buccleuch Academy responded with a comment on the steps they were taking, but neither school revealed how many cases they had.

Montsaye Academy in Rothwell, Kettering Science Academy, Bishop Stopford School and Latimer Arts College have still not responded as of today (Friday).

The case rate among those aged 40 to 44 in Kettering - the age bracket for many parents of children who have caught the virus - has also almost doubled in the past fortnight.

Raw data as of last night (Thursday) showed Kettering's overall case rate to be 961 per 100,000 after 150 new cases were recorded yesterday. At one point this week the case rate stood at 999 per 100,000 - believed to be the highest rate Kettering has recorded since the pandemic began, including the two previous deadly waves.

The national average is just 352 per 100,000. Corby's case rate is now the eighth highest in the country at 653 per 100,000.

Data released by the county's public health team today - which only covers the week to September 26 - showed Kettering had recorded 1,019 cases in a week. During that week 11 county residents died with the virus, including three from Kettering.

Of the 15 areas in Northamptonshire to have recorded the highest number of cases in the past month just three were not in the Kettering or Corby area.

Desborough had the highest number of cases in the past 28 days, with 395, followed by the Burton Latimer, Broughton and Mawsley area with 363.

Desborough also had the highest case rate in the past 28 days at 3,428.8 per 100,000, followed by Rothwell at 3,275.3 per 100,000.

As of September 27 Kettering had four Covid outbreaks - two in an educational setting and two in care homes.

As of September 28 the county had 75 Covid patients occupying beds at both KGH and NGH.

The rollout of the vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 begun in the county this week and public health officials are urging young people to get the vaccination when offered to help reduce the growing number of infections locally.