CONCERNS have been raised about the rise of Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire as health experts warn England might be in the beginning of a third wave.

People in the county are being urged to continue to follow public health guidance as the number of cases locally have increased rapidly in recent days, with the Delta strain, which originated in India, now the dominant one.

A total of 146 cases were recorded in Oxfordshire in the seven days up to May 28 compared to 58 in the week up to May 21.

This equates to 21.1 cases per 100,000 compared to 8.4 cases per 100,000 the week before.

ALSO READ: Concerns raised as GP centre halts vaccinations despite rise in Covid cases

Ansaf Azhar, director for public health in Oxfordshire, said: "Throughout the country we are seeing cases go up and Oxfordshire is no exception.

"To some degree it was expected that there would be an increase when lockdown was further eased.

"However, now that cases are clearly on the rise, it serves as a reminder that the virus is still very much in circulation.

"We have vaccinated significant numbers of people, but by no means all of the population.

"The new variant of concern that was first identified in India is now present in Oxfordshire, with over two dozen cases reported as of May 27.

ALSO READ: Dozens of patients have second Covid vaccines delayed at Oxford medical centres

"This is being closely monitored as is the overall case rate in the county."

Currently, case rates by district are: Cherwell with 8.6 per 100,000, Oxford with 26.2 per 100,000, South Oxfordshire with 28.9 per 100,000, Vale of White Horse with 27.2 per 100,000, West Oxfordshire with 13.6 per 100,000.

Public Health England's latest report published on Thursday says there is 'early evidence' to suggest the Delta variant could double the risk of hospitalisation.

The latest figures reveal that Oxford University Hospitals Trust was caring for two Covid-19 patients in hospital as of Tuesday.

Cases of the variant have gone up by 5,472 to 12,431, according to PHE.

Officials said on Thursday that it has now overtaken the Alpha (Kent) one as the most dominant in the country.

ALSO READ: Group convicted in plot to 'cover up' murder of man hacked to death in Blackbird Leys

They added that those most likely to be seriously impacted by this are the elderly, who have, for whatever reason, remained reluctant to receive the vaccine.

Mr Azhar added: "With so many people having now been vaccinated, we are making incremental progress against Covid-19.

"But the virus is constantly evolving – as we can see from the rapid spread of the new variant – plus a significant proportion of people are not yet vaccinated or have only had their first dose.

"So we all need to be careful."