Milton Keynes Council has stepped in to secure thousands of COVID-19 home tests so local secondary school children and their families can be tested before Christmas.
Milton Keynes’ Director of Public Health has written to parents and carers of children at MK secondary schools to warn them local COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly and to ask them to book a home test regardless of whether or not they have virus symptoms.
The number of cases in Milton Keynes is currently very high and accelerating rapidly, up by almost 80% over the last week. There were more than 800 new cases for the week ending Sunday 13 December. One of the highest rates of infection is among 11 to 18 year olds, although rates are rising in all age brackets including over 60s.
MK University Hospital is under significant pressure and currently has more COVID-19 patients than at the national pandemic peak in spring.
Vicky Head, MK’s Director of Public Health says: “Community transmission of COVID-19 is now very high – with particularly high rates in secondary school children. We’ve made special arrangements for all school staff, students and their families who attend secondary schools and colleges to request a home testing kit online. The additional testing is intended to help break transmission by identifying people who are positive for COVID-19 without displaying typical symptoms (a cough, temperature and a loss/change of taste or sense of smell).”
“Anyone with symptoms, however mild, should book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. It’s also crucial we all keep sticking to the rules, which means no indoor socialising outside of your household and bubble. Mixing with other people increases the risk of spreading the virus. Remember hands, face and space if you are out. And if you do have symptoms, test positive, or are asked to isolate by NHS Test and Trace then please do so – even if it means altering your festive plans.”
The level of community infection in MK is close to the peak seen in spring and it’s increasingly likely that MK will be placed in the Tier 3 Very High alert level by Government.
Vicky Head also reiterated the critical importance of people getting a test if they have symptoms, reducing the number of social contacts, socially distancing, wearing a face mask in indoor public spaces and washing hands.
Milton Keynes Council continues work closely with schools, who have reported around 600 cases since September, to limit the impact on children’s learning.