Oxford no longer 'covid enhanced response area' following mass testing roll out

Oxford will no longer be classed as a "covid enhanced response area" after a fall in the number of coronavirus cases in the city.

The area was put on alert in July following a stark rise in infection rates, which have now fallen after a huge testing effort.

Councillors have thanked residents for a "city-wide effort," but have warned that they "still need to be careful."

Testing sites were set up across the city, including in South Park.

At the start of that month there were 620 cases per 100,000 people, putting Oxford in the ten worst affected hotspots in England.

Walk-in testing centres were set up across the city offering symptom free testing, particularly targeting young people who had not yet been double vaccinated where case rates were highest.

The city council said that more than 8000 extra PCR tests were carried out since the walk in centres were set up - and case rates have now dropped to 279 per 100,000.

That's just below the rate in England, which stands at around 300 per 100,000.

Oxford City Council has welcomed the efforts by people across the area, but has warned that unvaccinated young people are still at risk.

In Oxfordshire 69% of 30 to 39 years, and only 62% of those aged between 18 and 29 have had a first jab, the council said.

Councillors are also urging residents to continue taking precautions to keep infections down; wearing face coverings in crowded, indoor venues, meeting others outside where possible and continuing to use home test kits to spot any infections.

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Safer, Healthier Oxford said that the fall in rates has been thanks to "a city-wide effort."

"I know it is difficult so I want to say well done to everyone who has made those small sacrifices and changed their behaviour," she said.

But Cllr Upton also warned that "while we still have a lot of people who are not fully vaccinated we need to keep infections down.

"We’re no longer in an enhanced response area but we still want people to be careful and, most importantly, to get vaccinated.

"If you haven’t yet had your first vaccine please do book it as soon as possible, and do ask your GP or pharmacist if you have questions about the UK vaccines.”