SOUTHAMPTON schools have seen a huge boom in Covid cases since the start of the academic year.

City council figures show that 533 cases were confirmed in educational settings between October 11 and 17.

Just before the summer holidays began in August, just 96 had been reported.

But a sharp spike began when children returned for a new year last month, with cases reaching 264 between September 13 and 19.

This could be related to the fact that just a quarter of 12 to 15-year-olds have received their first dose of the vaccine in Southampton.

Daily Echo:

Figures from the UK's Covid dashboard show 2,736 young teenagers had received one jab by October 17 – around 24.2% of the age group, based on the number of people on the National Immunisation Management Service.

Of them, 0.2% had received both jabs.

Earlier this week, Dr Debbie Chase, director of public health at Southampton City Council, told the Echo: “We expected to see a rise in cases as we enjoy more freedoms; however, we have seen a real spike in the last week, particularly among younger age groups.

"I’d please ask everyone to practice good hygiene measures such as regular hand washing, wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, access regular asymptomatic testing and to self-isolate and get a PCR test if they develop symptoms.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday that 12 to 15-year-olds in England can now arrange a Covid vaccine through the national booking service.

In a joint letter to parents of secondary school and college pupils last week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid told parents that vaccines are the best defence against Covid-19.

“They help protect young people, and benefit those around them. Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on,” the letter said.

Health professionals are calling for mass Covid testing in schools to be scrapped, as it is 'causing chaos' and disrupting education.