YOUNG people aged between 18 and 29 account for half of all new Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire as the Delta variant takes hold.

Scientists tracking the pandemic reveal that in the seven days up to last Friday, there has been a total of 422 confirmed new cases in the county, which represents a spike of 49 per cent compared with the previous week.

This is also equivalent to a weekly rate of 61 per 100,000 residents.

The sharpest increases continue to be in Oxford City and South Oxfordshire, where the weekly rates currently stand at 78.1 and 71.8 respectively.

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Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council's Director of Public Health, said: "The Delta variant is being shown to be considerably more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant, and this is clear in Oxfordshire where we have seen an almost fifty per cent increase in new cases over the past week alone.

"It seems that this variant appears to have hit the younger age groups in Oxfordshire hardest, and unfortunately it is this age group which is also the least likely to have received their vaccines yet.

"Therefore, we are encouraging everybody over the age of 18 to book their jab as soon as they receive the text message alert.

"They may be invited to their GP practice or they can book an appointment through the national NHS booking service."

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Pop-up vaccination clinics at Oxford Brookes University and Oxford University started yesterday and, as part of vaccination 'Super Saturday' events, there are two pop-up clinics running this weekend in the city for those who have booked appointments and for walk-ins.

In July pop-up clinics will be held at large businesses, which have a younger age workforce, together with mobile vaccination clinics using NHS Health on the Move vans.

Mr Azhar added: "If you struggle to book your vaccination locally first time, please keep trying.

"New slots will be released as soon as vaccine deliveries are confirmed.

"In the meantime, everybody should continue with twice-weekly lateral flow testing, stick to hands, face, space, ventilate where they can, and remember that socialising outdoors is far safer than indoors.

"It is also important not to forget that you must have two doses of the vaccine to receive the full protection and that the first dose does not start offering notable protection until two weeks after the jab has been administered."