Banbury region named one of England's Covid-19 hotspots
and live on Freeview channel 276
People in Oxfordshire are urged to stay at home, avoid mixing with other households, and follow the lockdown rules to the letter to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the county.
The stark national and local figures mean that things are not going to improve unless people observe the lockdown rules in full.
In the past seven days, Cherwell district has seen rates between 900 and 1,000 per 100,000 people, which puts it in the top 50 coronavirus hotspots in England. All other parts of Oxfordshire show high rates compared to before Christmas.
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director for public health, said: “The prevalence of Covid in Oxfordshire is higher than it has ever been.
"We are in a worse position than at the height of the first wave last spring, and the situation is continuing to deteriorate. In some parts of the county, such as the Hardwick and Ruscote areas of Banbury, we are seeing rates significantly higher than the Cherwell average.
“We are aware that people are fed up and want an end to all of this, but this is an exceptionally serious situation – we are in the eye of the storm.
"The vaccine will not start to have an influence for some weeks and so the only weapon we have against this virus is to stay at home and avoid mixing with people outside of our households. We are dealing with a new variant that is extremely infectious and therefore need to be even more careful than last spring.
“Covid-19 loves crowds. Only go shopping when it is essential, shop alone and shop local, keep two metres apart from others, and remember that outdoor exercise is only allowed once per day.
"Being out and about presents a real risk, so limit the time you are out of the house and take every precaution. One in three people with Covid don’t know they have it so act like you’ve got it to reduce the spread. We need people to hear that message loud and clear.
“I know this is all familiar from the first lockdown last spring, but the strict observation of the rules last March and April helped drive down cases. We need to remember that and do the same now.
“We are relying on the people of Oxfordshire as individuals, families and work colleagues to regain control of this virus by doing what is needed. I would plead with every individual in the county to look deep inside themselves and honestly ask if they are abiding by the rules.
“Hospitalisations and deaths from the virus are continuing to rise rapidly and we are now seeing more younger people admitted to hospital. Please do everything you can to stop the spread. The power to fight back against Covid remains in our own hands.”
Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “Cherwell is now in a very perilous situation. Cases have risen exponentially in our district, putting us in the top 50 most affected areas in all of England. Ruscote and Hardwick wards are the hardest hit and are a cause for very grave concern, but high numbers are seen in all areas.
“We now are in more danger than at any time during the course of the pandemic. We need to follow not just the letter, but the spirit of the lockdown rules, and to do so diligently.
"I would ask all Cherwell residents to limit their trips to the shops, and when they do need to make essential purchases, to try and do so at quieter times. And as tempting as it may be to check in on near neighbours and family members, we must keep contact to an absolute minimum.”
Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, said: “The past year has been difficult for everyone. We are all tired and frustrated about the ongoing restrictions. However, the situation in Cherwell is critical.
"Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising. It is more important than ever that we follow the rules and stay at home.
"We all have a part to play in bringing infection rates down in Cherwell and beyond and can do that by washing our hands regularly, using face coverings and making space."
Current Oxfordshire Covid statistics:
Below are the rates per 100,000 of the population in Oxfordshire and each individual district.
Oxfordshire as a whole - 563
Cherwell - 901.6
Oxford - 585.7
South Oxfordshire - 438.6
West Oxfordshire - 415.8
Vale of White Horse - 412.5
Banbury area Covid figures for seven day period ending on January 7
Banbury Ruscote: 135 cases - increase of 20
Banbury Grimsbury: 116 cases - increase of 16
Banbury Hardwick: 79 cases - decrease of 22
Banbury Easington: 61 cases - decrease of 18
Banbury Neithrop: 57 cases - decrease of 5
Banbury Calthorpe: 44 cases - decrease of 5
Bodicote, Adderbury and Bloxham: 103 cases - increase of 17
Brackley North: 62 cases - decrease of 21
Brackley South: 24 cases - increase of 6
King's Sutton and Greatworth: 27 cases - decrease of 7
Middleton Cheney and Chipping Warden: 47 cases - decrease of 8
Cropredy, Wroxton and Shennington: 43 cases - no change
Sibford, Hook Norton and Milcombe: 47 cases - increase of 2
Deddington, Steeple Aston and Heyfords: 37 cases - decrease of 10
Enstone and Middle Barton: 25 cases - decrease of 1
Chipping Norton: 22 cases - decrease of 3
Shipston and Brailes: 27 - increase of 3
Kineton, Tysoe and Warmington: 17 cases - decrease of 14