CORONAVIRUS case rates in Dorset are increasing but appear to be slowing, according to latest figures.

Data published by Public Health Dorset show a case rate - the number of cases per 100,000 of the population - of 121.5 for the BCP Council area in the seven days between October 11 and 17.

The rate was 115.1 between October 4 and 10 and 67.0 the week of September 28 to October 4.

Bournemouth Echo:

Case rates over the past few months published on the Public Health Dorset website

The BCP area recorded 481 cases between October 11 and 17, up from 453 the previous seven days.

It remains below the south west average of 157.6 and 169.7 in England.

In the Dorset Council area, 245 cases were recorded last week, an increase of 63 from 182 between October 4 and 10.

The health authority said hospital admissions in Dorset have increased in line with the rise in cases.

It said as of 8am on October 21, 2020, there were 44 Covid-19 patients in hospital beds in Dorset.

Data on the government website shows five deaths recorded in the BCP area between October 11 and 17 with one in the Dorset Council area.

In terms of the overall picture in Dorset, Public Health Dorset said: "Following last week's national announcement on local COVID alert levels, both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council areas remain in the medium category (tier 1).

“We would like to remind everyone of the importance of following social distancing and self-isolation rules. This is critical in preventing our area being moved up to high (tier 2) restrictions, which would include a ban on households mixing in indoor settings.”

Situation in care homes

Public Health Dorset said: “We are continuing to see positive cases in a number of care homes identified through routine whole care home testing. These are monitored closely working with partners in adult social care, NHS Dorset CCG and the care homes themselves to ensure all necessary measures are being taken.”

Situation in schools

The health authority said it continues to see cases across schools in the BCP Council and Dorset Council areas.

It said: “We have well-established processes in place to work closely with affected schools to respond to cases, ensure all necessary measures are implemented and identify and advise any close contacts to self-isolate.

“Schools with confirmed positive cases communicate directly with parents and carers regarding any actions that need to be taken and any changes to school provision. All close contacts of confirmed cases are contacted and advised to self-isolate, so other members of the school community do not need to self-isolate and should not get tested unless specifically directed to do so.”

Situation in universities

Public Health Dorset said: “We are continuing to see a number of positive cases amongst university students in the Bournemouth area, as is to be expected. At the moment these cases are dispersed across the student population and different residences.”

Latest figures published by Bournemouth University showed 256 positive tests in the whole BU population of 1,723 staff and 16,606 students.

Public Health Dorset said the number of cases amongst students in Bournemouth continues to be “relatively low compared” to elsewhere in the UK and it is working with universities, BCP Council and Public Health England South West to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.