SCHOOLS are being told to extend additional Covid protection measures due to a rise in cases among children in Dorset.

Measures including enhanced testing, reduced mixing and wearing face coverings are recommended at schools across the county as infection rates remain highest in school-aged children.

Dorset health chiefs are recommending these actions are extended until the end of the month, with plans to review them further in the coming days.

Schools in the county were initially asked to roll out the measures for two weeks after the autumn half term.

Sam Crowe, director of Public Health for Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said: “After a short period of decline, infection rates are now rising again across the county. Our rates are higher than both the averages for the South West region and England, and COVID-related hospital admissions have also continued to rise.

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“We know that as we head into the winter months we face a challenging period, so anything we can do now to reduce transmission of COVID-19 can make a big difference.

“Infection rates remain highest amongst school-aged children, which is why we’ve recommended additional measures for schools to implement, including enhanced testing, reduced mixing and wearing face coverings.”

However, Mr Crowe has urged people of all ages to make sure they're staying safe.

Official advice now tells people to take a lateral flow test before going to an event or gathering or meeting someone more vulnerable to Covid-19.

This also applies to the upcoming festive period.

Mr Crowe also offered reassurance for people who have struggled to book appointments in Dorset.

“We are aware that some residents have had difficulties in finding local appointments through the national booking system and appreciate that this can be frustrating", he said.

“The vaccination programme has been a huge undertaking for the NHS locally and with more groups becoming eligible for the booster, demand is extremely high and appointments are getting booked up really quickly once they’re made available.

“If you aren’t able to get an appointment at the moment, please be assured that more appointments will be added.

“In terms of protection from the virus, it is okay if you have your booster slightly later than the six month interval, as the evidence suggests that immunity may wane gradually so we’d like to reassure everyone that you won’t lose all immunity at the six month mark.”