COVID infection rates have “fallen steeply” across Dorset following a peak earlier this month, the local public health authority has said.

Public Health Dorset said there had also been a reduction in the number of people in hospital with the coronavirus with the number of deaths remaining “relatively stable.”

A spokesperson said: “Infection rates in Dorset Council and BCP Council have fallen steeply from a peak in early January. This is a similar picture to the national trend and the case rates for both council areas are now below the average rates for England and the south west. Infection rates remain high and there are still thousands of people catching COVID-19 across Dorset each week.

“We've also seen a reduction in the number of people in hospital in Dorset with Covid-19 and the number of deaths related to the virus remains relatively stable.”

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Latest data for the seven days to January 15 shows there were 3,409 cases in the BCP Council area with 2,524 in the Dorset Council area. These were down from 5,362 and 4,404 respectively.

The latest rates per 100,000 people were 768.0 for the BCP area and 664.6 for Dorset.

The previous week, these were 1,350.7 in BCP and 1,159.1 in wider Dorset.

In hospitals, there are 68 patients being treated for Covid across Dorset compared to 94 previously.

The highest number of Covid patients seen in Dorset hospitals this month was on January 12 when there were 96 people being cared for. 

The Public Health Dorset spokesperson added: “These trends are positive, but we are still living with COVID-19. The government has announced the removal of Plan B coronavirus measures, but it's important to continue to exercise caution.

"Health and care services are still extremely busy so we need to do all we can to protect essential frontline services, as well as our friends and loved ones.”