AN AMBER alert has been issued following a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases across Dorset.

The alert has been issued through the Dorset Covid-19 Health Protection Board after 635 positive tests across the county in just seven days.

Sam Crowe, director of public health for BCP and Dorset councils, said over the summer, Dorset was recording 10 to 15 cases per day across both council areas.

However, Mr Crowe said now Dorset is seeing four times as many cases in each council area.

He said: "This week I have had to take the step of issuing an amber alert through the Dorset Health Protection Board in view of our rising cases.

"Although we had low cases over the summer, that's not the case anymore, for example we were having 10 to 15 cases per day across both council areas, four weeks later we're now seeing four times that many cases per day in each council area and because of that, we all need to act now, follow the rules and, if we don't, we will be placed into tier two with further restrictions on who we can see indoors."

Under the government’s new regulations brought in on Monday, both BCP Council and Dorset Council are currently placed in the “medium” tier 1 category.

Now Dorset residents are being urged to "take action now" to avoid being moved into tier 2.

Latest figures released by Public Health Dorset, show 453 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed across the BCP Council area between October 4 and 10 with 182 in the Dorset Council area.

 The previous week, 265 and 93 cases were recorded respectively across the two local authorities.

In its weekly update, Public Health Dorset said: "This week, an amber alert has been issued through the Dorset COVID-19 Health Protection Board due to the rising number of cases in the area.

"Following the national announcement on local COVID alert levels earlier this week, both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council areas are currently placed in the medium category (tier 1).

"However cases are increasing so we are urging residents to take action now, follow the rules at all times and prevent the spread of the virus. If we don’t do this we are at risk of being placed in the high category (tier 2) restrictions, which would mean households would be banned from mixing in indoor settings."

The rate for the BCP Council area is now 115.1 and 48.2 for the Dorset Council area.

These figures remain below the average of 134.6 in the south west and 147.1 in England.

Situation on hospitalisations

Public Health Dorset said: “We have seen a few hospital admissions throughout the last month across the county, but this has started to increase over the last week. This is to be expected given the increase in case numbers we are now seeing.”

Situation in care homes

The health authority said it is “continuing to see positive cases in a number of care homes identified through routine whole care home testing”.

It added: “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.”

Public Health Dorset said a local care home visiting policy is in place and being reviewed at the Health Protection Board each week. Care homes with positive cases are required to pause visiting and all care homes have been asked to review their own visiting policies and practices. The authority said if we do move into the high category (tier 2) care home visits would need to be suspended.

Situation in schools

Providing an update on schools, Public Health Dorset said: “We continue to see cases associated with schools reported in both the Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council areas. 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.”

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.

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