Rise in Devon Covid-19 cases prompts plea from public health boss

A rise in coronavirus cases in Devon has seen its director of public health urge residents to do their bit to reduce the spread of the virus.

Dr Virginia Pearson said infections remain ‘comparatively low’ – with 53 confirmed in the Devon County Council are last week.

However, that is compared to 42 in the previous seven days, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

Of the 53 new cases, 15 were in East Devon and ten were in Exeter.

There were seven in North Devon, six in Teignbridge, five in Torridge, four apiece in Mid Devon and the South Hams, and two in West Devon.

The total does not include the 26 infections recorded in Plymouth and the 11 in Torbay.

Dr Pearson added that not all of the new cases were linked to returning international travellers, which had been the pattern previously.

She said: “Although Devon’s rates have been comparatively low so far, we cannot be complacent.

“Just like the rest of the country, we have seen a significant rise in the number of confirmed cases in September.

“Not all new cases are now linked to returning international travellers, which was the pattern we had seen recently.

“We must remember that coronavirus is still a very real threat to us all, especially to our older and vulnerable residents.

“It’s very easy – with the relaxation of restrictions we’ve had over recent months, the call for people to return to work and to support our high streets; our children returning to schools, colleges and soon to Universities – to believe that life is back to normal.

“It is not back to normal. The virus is still here and it is very easy to get infected, especially indoors.

“I am therefore urging all Devon residents, of all ages, but specifically to our younger residents who perhaps do not feel the risk felt by older and more vulnerable residents, to follow the public health advice at all times.

“We are continuing to monitor the data very closely so that we can react immediately to situations as they arise.

“But we also need you, the Devon public, to carry on doing your bit to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading in our county this autumn.”

Public health specialist Maria Moloney-Lucey told a meeting of the  Local Outbreak Engagement Board yesterday (Thursday, September 10) that confirmed cases remained very low compared to the national average.

There are current 6.6 cases being confirmed per 100,000 people in Devon. The  national average is 20.2.

The number of cases would need to triple for Devon to be put on the Government’s watchlist – and then double for any intervention measures to be put in place.

Cases would need to be around ten times higher than they currently are before any ‘local lockdown’ rules may be imposed.

In East Devon, the Cranbrook, Broadclyst and  Stoke Canon and Clyst, Exton and Lympstone areas recorded three or more new Covid-19 cases in the last week.

“We are seeing a flurry of cases and seeing some single cases where it isn’t possible to link to where it originated from,” added  Mrs Moloney-Lucey.

Dr Phil Norrey, chief executive of Devon County Council, added: “With 53 cases in the last week, you would expect to see more clusters, which tells us that it is out there and it is not just about stamping down on settings.

“We need to be clear to the general population that it could crop up and pop out anywhere – and it has been doing so.”

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