Health experts and senior officials in Northamptonshire are urging local people to continue to comply with social distancing in light of a slower reduction in COVID-19 cases in the county compared to other areas.

GP Joanne Watt said: “Unfortunately we are not seeing the fall in cases that other areas are experiencing – indeed there is evidence of static case numbers in the community and an increase in some areas of COVID-19 cases being admitted to hospital. It’s therefore vitally important that people continue to follow the lockdown rules and adhere to the social distancing guidance – as well as ensuring good hand hygiene. This will help to reduce further spread across the county.

“It’s unclear why we are seeing a different pattern of infection in Northamptonshire when other areas of the UK are starting to see a decrease, but what we must do is try to reduce the transmission as quickly as possible to protect the vulnerable in our communities. I would strongly advise local people to continue to follow the NHS and Government advice.

“The aim of social distancing is to keep the infection rate low in order to protect those most at risk, prevent outbreaks which can overwhelm health services and to save lives – so we must continue to socially distance even though some lockdown measures have now been relaxed.

“Our hospitals are fortunately very well prepared for any increase in admissions but we really want to avoid people catching the virus in the first place and reduce the need for people to go into hospital.

“I strongly urge people to follow social distancing and to keep washing their hands regularly and thoroughly – this will significantly help to reduce the number of cases we currently have.”

Councillor Ian Morris, Portfolio holder for Adults, Communities and Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council said: “As the lockdown loosens, we understand that it may be tempting for some people to ignore social distancing measures, particularly with family and friends, but social distancing is in place for a reason. The virus has not gone away and there are clearly things we all still need to do to help limit the spread of the disease.

“We know that the more people mix, the more the virus can spread. The less physical interaction there is between households, then the less the virus can spread. So we are still encouraging people to stay at home as much as possible and only go out if you have to, and if you do, to adhere to the two metre rule.

“Just because more people can now meet up in gardens and parks it doesn’t mean that you have to. We all have a part to play in managing the spread of COVID-19. We can all help to reduce the number of cases we are seeing by taking responsibility to properly follow the guidance. Which, in the long run will help to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.

“As lockdown is loosened, local businesses, shops, and councils across the districts and boroughs are working really hard to ensure people’s continued safety. We are working together to support the businesses and shops that are reopening to be COVID-19 secure, and ensure there is clear signage across the county; in offices, factories, shops, parks and public spaces that support social distancing and reminds people to keep two metres apart when outside their homes.

“Thank you to everyone who is acting responsibly, together we can all do our bit to reduce the continued spread of the virus in Northamptonshire.”

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate along with their whole household and follow the guidance for symptomatic households. COVID-19 tests are available by appointment to anyone who is symptomatic – so that means a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in their sense of taste or smell.

To book an appointment please visit the government website at www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested. Once you have booked you will be given the location of a testing site and details of how to get there.