COVID cases across Dorset are dropping rapidly.

The county’s Director of Public Health, Sam Crowe, says the infection rates had been very high in March caused mainly by Omicron BA2 but the peak had now passed, judging by the latest round of testing carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

He said that on May 13th the estimated prevalence in the South West, which includes Dorset, was 2.2 per cent, down from 8 per cent in the previous month.

The director said that even though fewer people were now being tested, around 200 people per day were still being checked for Covid in the BCP Council area, mostly linked to the need to test staff in health and care settings. Of those around 7 per cent were testing positive, compared to ten-plus percent a month ago.

“The wave is definitely receding, you can see that in hospitalisations with the number of people in a Dorset secondary care bed who have tested positive is 58 people, very much lower than 30-40 days ago when we still had upwards of 200 people in hospital, which has also resulted in fewer staff absences and fewer outbreaks reported to the public health team…so it’s very positive at the moment,” said Sam Crowe at the BCP Council health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee.

He said that two new variants were being tracked by the World Health Organisation, BA4 and BA5, which are linked with outbreaks in South Africa, but no outbreaks in other countries. Both are said to have a ‘growth advantage’ over other variants and are being watched carefully. He said, so far, there have only been a limited number of cases in this country.