OXFORD is edging towards 'red alert' and 'tough' local lockdown measures following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

UPDATE: Oxford cases keep rising after 'red alert' warning

That was the warning from Oxfordshire's director of public health Ansaf Azhar today as he revealed positive tests had doubled in a week, and he said the situation could 'deteriorate further very quickly'.

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It follows 30 cases at Oxford Brookes University, confirmed in an email to a city councillor last week as linked with partying students.

In the seven days to September 25, there were 67 Covid-19 cases in the city, with 11 new cases reported as of 9am.

According to figures from Public Health England, the figure was 33 a week prior.

Also read: Oxford University promises to protect city from Covid-19

Cases are across all parts of the city, with the majority among 18-24-year-olds and cases per 100,000 are now at their highest level in Oxford since May.

A previous spike at the end of August was also linked with young adults.

The latest figures give the city an infection rate of 43.9 per 100,000 of the population – putting Oxford on amber alert but edging closer to a red alert level which is triggered when the rate is more than 50.

Oxford Mail:

Coronavirus cases by district. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire as a whole is currently on yellow alert, with cases at 18.1 per 100,000. In yesterday's update, a further 26 cases were confirmed.

Across the county to September 25, there were a total of 125 Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire.

This is an increase from 92 new cases in the previous week.

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Mr Azhar said: “We have seen a considerable increase in cases in Oxford.

“While this mirrors what is happening nationally, we must remember that cases in Oxford have doubled over the past week and the situation can deteriorate further very quickly.

"If we don’t all take this very seriously, we risk seeing tough local restrictions imposed that none of us want."

Oxford Mail:

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire's director of public health

He added: "We have recently seen many other parts of the country go into lockdown. This is something we all want to avoid.

"But if cases continue to rise at the rate they have been doing, then we may have no choice.

“My plea is a simple one – keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a mask, and ensure you are adhering to the rule of six.

“It’s up to all of us to bring the virus under control. The latest figures are a stark warning that we must act now.

"We need to slow the rate before it’s too late.”

Also read: 30 positive coronavirus cases at Oxford Brookes after parties

The return of students to the city has seen a recent spike in cases.

Thirty positive tests at Oxford Brookes University were traced back to partying students, which followed a leaked video showing a mass gathering at one campus.

An email sent to Headington councillor Mick Haines said: "As of 9am on September 23 there have been a total of 30 Covid-19 cases at Oxford Brookes over the last seven days.

"The majority of these cases have been traced back to social gatherings."

It followed a shocking video of students ignoring social distancing rules at a huge party outside one of Oxford Brookes' halls of residence.

A virtual meeting was held on Tuesday night, with university representatives, police and public health officials.

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Moderated by Oxford City Council's deputy leader Ed Turner, residents were able to ask questions and raise safety concerns.

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday of Oxford Brookes said the university had now stopped large gatherings, and was clamping down on persistent rule breakers by using its own disciplinary measures

Oxford University, which is set to see students return on Sunday, also sought to reassure it has safety steps in place.

These include no face-to-face lectures, though small seminars and lab work will be done in person.

Students and staff will also have to wear masks for all indoor activities, and many of them have been provided with face coverings by the university.

In accommodation blocks, students are being broken up into households of eight, so the university can isolate them in small groups if they catch coronavirus, rather than having to put whole blocks on quarantine as seen elsewhere in the UK.