Young Londoners are being warned to stick to social distancing rules after coronavirus cases shot up rapidly over the past month for people in their 20s.
The rise comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Covid-19 could stick to young people ‘like a tornado with a long tail’ even if they do not feel any symptoms.
The latest Public Health England (PHE) data showed positive tests for coronavirus nearly trebled for people aged 20 to 29 between July 27 to August 2, and August 17 to August 23.
The positive test rate rose from about 10 per 100,000 people to about 27 per 100,000 last week.
That is contrasted with the 30 to 39 age group last week seeing about 13 cases per 100,000 people, and those aged 40 to 49 about 10 cases per 100,000 people.
PHE deputy regional director for London Professor Paul Plant told the Evening Standard the data showed ‘an increase in positive tests in Londoners in their 20s in particular’.
He said: ‘Rates of COVID-19 in young people have been rising over the past two weeks in London and the highest number of positive test results are now among people aged 20-29 across the city.
‘This contrasts with overall rates for London boroughs which remain low compared to other parts of the country but we are concerned about this increase in Londoners in their twenties.
‘Lockdown has been a tough time especially for young people and we know many are now enjoying the benefits of being able to go on holiday, eat meals out, go shopping and see family and friends again, but it’s crucial that we do these fun things safely.’
The WHO warned last week asymptomatic young people could be driving spikes in infections across Europe.
Dr Hans Kluge, the organisation’s regional director for Europe, said he was ‘very concerned’ young people were over-represented in coronavirus statistics.
He said: ‘Young people are at the forefront of the Covid-19 response and they have a very powerful message to convey through their behaviour and their communication.
‘Low risk does not mean no risk, no one is invincible and if you do not die from Covid it may stick to your body like a tornado with a long tail.’
Across the UK, PHE data shows the 15-44 age group has the highest rate of infection, with 17.7 cases per 100,000 in the week ending August 28.
The Sage group said last week the R rate – the average number of people an infected person goes on to infect – could be above 1 in every region of England.
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