School children and parents driving up COVID-19 rates in Slough

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

Spike in COVID-19 numbers are not new cases, Royal Borough confirms

School children and their parents are driving up COVID-19 cases in Slough, a public health official said – as he revealed 53,000 residents are still yet to be double jabbed. 

Figures presented by Sohail Bhatti, public health lead for Slough Borough Council, revealed the borough is getting about 420 cases a week – with pupils, parents, and guardians being the main contributors.

Councillors on the outbreak engagement board, who met virtually on Tuesday, heard the seven-day rolling average for 11 to 16-year-olds was about 1,200 per 100,000 population.

Dr Bhatti said Slough’s rate has been rising since schools opened up after the break, adding: “The findings seem to be mums and their kids have got the highest rates at the moment.”

In the last three months, nearly 590 females aged 10 to 19 have tested positive for coronavirus whereas 511 males in that age range were confirmed to have the virus.

According to Dr Bhatti, you are 1.6 times more likely to contract coronavirus if you mix with a six to 10-year-old.

The meeting also heard six primary and secondary schools have had 10 or more confirmed cases, four of which met the threshold to be outbreaks.

Dr Bhatti explained the schools are facing ‘difficulty’ on how to handle outbreaks and all schools are taking different approaches due to pressures from both parents and the government to keep children in the classroom.

He said: “Unless these children have higher vaccine uptake, and at the moment it’s not that high, these outbreaks will continue to happen.

“Year 10s and 11s are going down on mast at the moment in some of our schools, and we don’t have as much swabbing and testing of our children as I think we might do and that might mean we are missing cases.”

Meanwhile, Dr Bhatti revealed over 53,000 Slough residents have not received their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Figures taken from last December to October 7 show just under 50,000 of the over 16s have not been double jabbed and nearly 3,800 of the over 60s have not been fully vaccinated either.

Dr Bhatti added: “If you add the 10,000 children 12 to 15-year-olds we have that means we got 60,000 potential victims of COVID-19 at the moment who are not protected by vaccination in Slough.”

The meeting heard this could be down to vaccine hesitancy where the Eastern European and Pakistani communities, specifically in the over 16s cohort, that have a high number of people still not coming forward to be double jabbed.

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