THE last year has seen an average of one Covid incident per day in Dorset’s schools and other educational settings.

Figures for Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole show 365 incidents and outbreaks in the county’s educations spaces; 36,193 positive tests among the general public in the county, 588 incidents and outbreaks in care homes and 40 outbreaks in all other care settings – with all three major hospitals affected.

A total of 1,364 Dorset residents have died within 28 days of being tested as positive.

The sobering figures will be presented to Wednesday’s county-wide health and wellbeing board by director of health, Sam Crowe.

“Despite these huge impacts on our communities, it is widely recognised that case numbers in Dorset have, overall, been lower than the national average.

"The first wave, in particular saw case numbers remaining lower, which may have been due to lower social mixing in urban centres and less travel across communities than elsewhere in the country. The second wave saw case numbers rising much higher,” says Mr Crowe in his report to the committee.

“We must aim for a sustainable exit from the pandemic, moving to a situation where we may have to live with COVID-19 as an endemic seasonal infection, but not seeing the sort of epidemic transmission that has characterised the past two waves of infection.”

He says that a closer examination of the figures for Dorset show quite clearly that when transmission rates are high it tends to be in the county’s most deprived area.

Councillors will be told that there are other factors for Dorset – outbreaks linked with educational settings; having a significant older, frailer population than the national average; multi-generational households and a larger number of low paid workers who socialise and often share transport and accommodation.

An added, recent, factor has been older people who have been vaccinated no longer sticking to the guidelines.

Some of the local research has indicated that despite beliefs that many visitors were coming to Dorset from the London area, when the county was in a lower tier than the capital, many of the visitors travelled less far – many from in and around Southampton which at the time had a higher infection rate.

Mr Crowe says that continuing to find and trace local outbreaks and tackling them quickly will be among the keys to successful release from lockdown measures along with persuading people of the need to continue to isolate, when needed, and to maintain social distancing and other measures, even when the majority of the population have been vaccinated.