CASES of Covid-19 have started to increase again in Dorset with the number of hospital patients also rising, health officials have warned.

Public Health Dorset said despite the success of the national lockdown in driving down cases, the downward trend has “levelled off” with a rise in cases seen over the past seven days.

In an update posted today, Public Health Dorset said: “National restrictions implemented in November were successful in driving down cases across both local authority areas but following the move into tier two at the beginning of December, this downward trend has levelled off.

“Over the past seven days we have seen cases start to increase again, as well as an increase in COVID-19 patients in hospital beds.”

Dorset Echo: Local covid reported casesLocal covid reported cases

Data published by the health authority shows an increase of almost 100 new cases across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole compared to the previous week.

Between December 6 and 12, 340 people tested positive for the virus compared to 249 the previous week.

The wider Dorset area confirmed 174 new cases during the same period an increase of 24 compared to the previous seven days.

Currently there are 98 people with Covid-19 in hospital beds across Dorset compared to 88 last week.

The next update from Public Health Dorset on the local situation will be on December 29.

On Thursday it was revealed that the whole of Dorset would remain in Tier 2 of the coronavirus restrictions following the first formal review of the Tier system.

As part of the Tier system review, Public Health Dorset said the government looks at overall case rates, the rate of infection in older people, the impact on the care sector and amount of pressure on hospitals.

Public Health Dorset said all of these factors continue to be “a concern” in both BCP Council and Dorset Council areas.

Between December 23 and 27, the rules will be relaxed during the Christmas period with up to three households able to mix across the five days.

Earlier this week, prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to keep their Christmas arrangements ‘small and short’.

From December 28, Dorset residents will continue to observe the Tier 2 rules which include no mixing of households indoors and the ‘rule of six’ applying in outdoor settings.