Local public health bosses are monitoring coronavirus cases in a Nottinghamshire district after a spike in positive tests last week.
New Covid-19 cases in Newark and Sherwood rose significantly in the week to September 25, with 78 positive tests registered in just seven days.
For contrast, this number was more than three times higher than a week earlier when there were 25 new cases recorded.
A further 33 positive tests were registered in the area on Monday (September 28), while nine more were recorded on Tuesday.
This takes the district’s total cases since the pandemic began to at least 615, while recent data also shows the district has the highest rate of active Covid-19 cases in the county.
The rate, registered as 67.8 cases per 100,000 people, is considerably higher than the 18.8-case rate on August 22 – when Newark and Sherwood were on the Government’s watchlist.
It follows news that at least 40 cases were confirmed at HMP Lowdham Grange, located within the district, while there were other localised flare-ups across the wider community.
For example, the Ollerton & Boughton MSOA – which also includes Budby and Thoresby – recorded 18 positive tests between September 19 and September 25.
A further six were recorded during the same period in Rainworth & Blidworth, as well as five in Edwinstowe & Clipstone.
The latter cases come as a pub in Edwinstowe received an improvement notice following concerns about social distancing, noise and customer behaviour.
Speaking on the spike in cases across Ollerton and Boughton, Labour councillor Neal Mitchell described the figures as “worrying”.
However, he says the area has got a dedicated response team in place from the previous lockdown, and that the area is in a “good position” if further measures get introduced.
“I think the rise in cases here is with the national trend, but that in itself is alarming,” the Ollerton councillor told Nottinghamshire Live.
“We have got to be concerned about it and be watchful that it might continue to increase.
“It looks like the second wave is coming into effect, and while Ollerton and Boughton are not out of the ordinary, it is, of course, worrying to see it in your own ward.
“We’ve got a good community action response team here in Ollerton and Boughton, who worked really hard during the last lockdown.
“They did a fantastic job supporting people who were isolating and vulnerable and they continue to be active now.
“All of that is in place, so if we do go into lockdown again we are in a good position.
“I think it’s now on all of us to do out best to keep everyone safe, following the guidance no matter how hard it is to do.”
The new cases comes less than four weeks after Newark and Sherwood was taken off the Government’s Covid-19 watchlist, with Newark hard-hit following an outbreak at dessert factory Bakkavor.
Town centre businesses pulled together to enforce Government guidelines, while a drive-through testing centre was set up to curb the spread of Covid-19.
However, cases have began rising in the district in recent weeks – much like in the rest of the county – followed by confirmation of the 40 cases at Lowdham Grange prison.
Jonathan Gribbin, director for public health in the county, says the virus is now “spread quite evenly” across Newark and Sherwood and is no longer centralised in Newark.
However, he has eased concerns about local lockdowns and put most of the increase down to the Lowdham Grange cases.
“We are seeing rates rise right across Nottinghamshire, which is reflective across the whole of England generally,” he told Nottinghamshire Live.
“We are also seeing a rise in Newark and Sherwood district, which is probably the area of most concern in Nottinghamshire.
“However, when compared to August when the area was on the Government’s watchlist, almost all of the cases then were concentrated into Newark town centre.
“Now we are seeing cases spread quite evenly across the district, including Edwinstowe, Blidworth, Clipstone and quite notably in Ollerton.
“However, if you were to strip out the cases confirmed at Lowdham Grange the district’s case rate is probably slightly more in line with the rest of the county.”
Extra measures have been put in place at the prison, with both staff members and inmates testing positive for Covid-19.
These include limiting movements around the prison, a ban on visitors and for prisoners to spend extended periods isolated in their cells.