CORONAVIRUS cases in Dorset are “beginning to level off” as a result of the national lockdown, say health officials.

However, the number of cases and rates across Dorset continues to rise, according to the latest data.

A total of 947 cases were confirmed in the BCP Council area between November 8 and 14, compared to 848 the previous week.

The Dorset Council area recorded 420 new cases during the same period compared to 365 in the previous seven days.

The latest seven-day case rate per 100,000 people is 239.5 for BCP Council and 111.0 for Dorset Council, compared to 214.5 and 96.4 respectively.

Dorset Echo:

The rate in the BCP area is above the average in the south west which has a figure of 195.4 but remains below that in England at 273.4.

Dorset currently has a total of 137 patients in hospital beds compared to 126 the previous week.

Public Health Dorset said: “We are starting to see the impact of the national restrictions on our local situation with data beginning to level off, but this will become clearer in the next couple of weeks.

“We need everyone to follow the guidance, stay at home as much as possible and avoid contact with others in order to bring our cases down and put us in the best position for the end of national measures.”

​In a video posted on the Public Health Dorset YouTube channel, Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health, said: “I think we’re starting to see the first signs of a levelling off and even a drop in cases particularly in BCP Council.

"I know a lot of people have been asking as we’ve been a couple of weeks into lockdown, why aren’t we seeing the cases fall quicker. The simple answer to that is the delay in the time taken to contract coronavirus, develop symptoms, go and get a test and then for that data to start becoming available through the testing and surveillance system.

“So by the time we start to see an impact in reduced transmission it can be at least two weeks after the imposition of these national measures. So it’s going to take a little bit of time to see the impact of the measures but I’m really hoping that we don’t squander that four week break and that we’ll see our infection rates start to come down.”

The situation in care homes

Public Health Dorset said: "We are continuing to see positive cases in a number of care homes identified through routine whole care home testing. 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. Where care homes have positive cases in residents or staff, they are advised to only allow visits in exceptional circumstances."

It added: "Due to increased transmission within our communities we are advising extra caution to be taken when visiting care homes."

The situation in schools

The health authority said it has "well-established processes in place" and is working with affected schools to respond to cases, ensure all necessary measures are implemented and identify and advise any close contacts to self-isolate.

It continued: "Schools with confirmed positive cases communicate directly with parents and carers regarding any actions that need to be taken and any changes to school provision. All close contacts of confirmed cases are contacted and advised to self-isolate, so other members of the school community do not need to self-isolate and should not get tested unless specifically directed to do so."

The situation in universities

Public Health Dorset said: "We are seeing a number of positive cases amongst university students in the Bournemouth area, as is to be expected."