THE number of schoolchildren in Herefordshire being forced to have time off due to coronavirus appears to be falling, but hundreds are still testing positive.

The latest figures from Herefordshire Council showed more than half of maintained schools in the county still reported Covid-related absences last week.

Some 83 of Herefordshire's schools and colleges submitted data to the Department of Education last Thursday (October 7), with 53 reporting Covid absences – one less than the week before.

This means there was at least one child self-isolating due to having symptoms, or a positive test result.

Rules changed in August, meaning children, as well as fully-vaccinated adults, do not now need to self-isolation if they come into close contact with a confirmed case.

At those 53 schools, there were 500 confirmed cases in pupils.

On top of that, there were 399 suspected cases.

It meant 899 pupils in Herefordshire were off school or college on Thursday due to coronavirus, 243 fewer than the previous Thursday (September 30).

Then, there were 543 confirmed cases and 599 suspected in 54 schools.

The data, submitted to the Department for Education, was sent in by 83 of Herefordshire's 98 maintained schools on October 7.

Herefordshire Council previously said suspected cases would be either those children showing symptoms and awaiting confirmation of a PCR, or pupils having had a positive lateral flow who are then required to take a PCR.

Cases in Herefordshire had rising, with the infection rate one of the fastest-growing in the UK.

Herefordshire was second in a list of the five UK areas with the biggest week-on-week rises.

The figures, for the seven days to September 26, were based on the number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in either a lab-reported or rapid lateral flow test, by specimen date.

The rate was expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.

In the week to September 26, the infection rate was 634.2 cases per 100,000 people.

But in the seven days to October 5, the rate had fallen to 482.4 cases per 100,000 people.