MORE than 90 per cent of Covid cases recorded in Dorset are Omicron – with infection rates across both council areas “the highest they have ever been.”

Public Health Dorset said that the number of rising cases is putting a strain on local services.

A spokesperson said on Friday, December 31: “The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that more than 90% of community COVID cases in England are now Omicron, so we can see just how quickly this strain has become the dominant variant.

"Locally, infection rates in both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council areas are the highest they have ever been, and they are continuing to rise.

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“Because of these high rates, we are starting to see the impact of an increasing number of staff absences due to COVID-19 putting a strain on local services. The number of COVID-19 patients in our local hospitals has been falling in recent weeks which is good news, but it is not yet clear if this will continue as we see the impact of rising cases, so we will continue to monitor this closely.”

Due to the high infection rates, residents have been urged to avoid “mixing unnecessarily”.

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The spokesperson added: “As we celebrate the New Year, consider the risks as with high infection rates you are much more likely to catch COVID-19. Avoid mixing unnecessarily, as this could mean having to miss the things that are most important to you.”

Latest data shows in the seven days to December 25, 4,319 new cases were confirmed across the BCP Council area with 2,974 infections in the Dorset Council area during the same period.

The case rates per 100,000 people for BCP and Dorset were 1,087.9 and 783.1 respectively.

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Both of these were below the England average of 1,229.9 but the rate in the BCP area is above the south west average of 837.2.

According to the latest data, there are currently 55 patients in hospital with Covid across Dorset, which is down from 62 the previous week.

Anyone who hasn’t yet had their first or second Covid vaccine or booster jab yet is encouraged to take up the offer.

People are also advised to continue to wear face coverings, get plenty of fresh air and take a lateral flow test before meeting others.