RESIDENTS should think "very carefully" about the number of times they have to leave their homes as coronavirus cases surge in Basingstoke, a councillor has said.

The Gazette has reported how Viables and two other areas in Basingstoke have seen the number of Covid cases reported triple in a week.

In the case of Viables, the 92 new Covid cases reported there in the seven days to January 5 gives it the highest rolling rate in Hampshire outside of Rushmoor.

The Middle Layer Super Output Area of Viables includes southern Brighton Hill (around Sullivan Road), Cranbourne, and the areas around Brighton Hill Retail Park, Viables Industrial Estate and Queen Mary's College.

Now, a ward councillor for Brighton Hill South has called on people to stay at home as much as they can.

Cllr Andy McCormick told The Gazette: "Stay at home. What more can I say?

"If people have got the means of shopping online for food, even click and collect, then that is preferable.

"92 cases in the area of Viables - you have to be careful whilst looking at small datasets but it is a shocking increase in that small area."

He said there was "not enough information" to know for definite why Viables has seen such a large increase, but added that it could be people exposed whilst mixing at Christmas, or returning to work and school.

Cllr McCormick continued: "It is obviously of great concern that the cases have tripled in a week.

"If you had better track and trace data we would have been able to identify if there was an outbreak somewhere."

Cllr McCormick added that the current wave is "much worse" than the first peak of the virus, felt in March and April.

"The deaths will continue to grow until the end of the month.

"The hospitals will see their peak in the next two weeks."

Yesterday, 563 coronavirus deaths were recorded, with the number of fatalities since the start of the pandemic reaching 80,000 on Saturday.

"If people do go out and they are going into places like shops, wearing masks, maintaining distance from people and limiting the time spent indoors with other people, that is really key," Cllr McCormick continued.

"Go in, go out, don't linger.

"We are at that stage now that we have to think very carefully about work, schools etcetera and how we get the case rate down."

The Labour councillor urged people to follow the government's advice, including only going to work if unavoidable, using online delivery or click and collect if possible and only going out for exercise once a day.

He added that people needed to be "calm" about the rise in cases rather than "scared", but be "very careful" when out for an essential purpose.

"I don't wish to scare people or tell people what to do, but it's much worse than last March."