Covid ‘cluster’ in Pennsylvania and University area of Exeter rises to 41 cases

A coronavirus ‘cluster’ in the Pennsylvania and University area of Exeter has risen to 41 cases, according to government statistics.

The ward is currently the only one in the city and East Devon the be designated as such.

A cluster is where there have been three or more confirmed cases in a week.

The latest data map includes lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus reported by September 24 – with specimen dates between September 16 and 22.

Government figures are based on Middle Super Output Areas (MSOA) in England – broken down into zones of around 7,200 people.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported on Thursday how a rise in numbers followed a number of university students testing positive in recent days.

It was understood the majority of those who did so did not display any symptoms and had already contracted the virus prior to arriving at the campus this week.

Positive cases were identified by the University of Exeter’s rapid testing of students and staff in partnership with Halo, the UK’s first commercial provider of saliva-based PCR tests for Covid-19.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that, as a result of the private testing being carried out by the university, that all of these will be recorded under its postcode.

This is irrespective of where the students and staff reside.

Therefore, while there is a ‘cluster’ within the Pennsylvania and University MSOA, not all of the cases may be related to students who live within it.

They may be living elsewhere in Exeter and, as a result, data for the MSOA may be skewed.

A University of Exeter spokesman said earlier this week: “We have had a small number of positive Covid-19 cases over the past few days.

“The health and welfare of all students and staff is our overriding priority, and our Rapid Response Hub is co-ordinating testing and working with Public Health England and the national track and trace programme to share details of any positive cases, as well as target those who need to self-isolate or be tested and trace their close contacts.

“We are working with local health teams on any actions required and continue to communicate directly with students on the necessity to follow Covid-19 rules fully.”

A spokesman for Public Health Devon added: “We are aware of the rise in the number of cases in Exeter.

“All positive cases and their households are self-isolating and following public health advice.

“There is no evidence of wider community transmission at this stage and we are monitoring the data very closely so that we can respond immediately to changes in the data.

“We are working very closely with the university, which has extremely comprehensive measures in place to reduce the risk to students, staff and members of the community.

“It is imperative that everyone of all ages should follow the latest public health advice around social distancing, wearing of face masks, and regular proper washing of hands with soap and water.

“If you develop any of the three symptoms – the high temperature, new and continuous cough, and a change to your sense of taste or smell – you must self-isolate immediately and for ten days and arrange a test.

“Everyone in a household in which there is a positive case must also self-isolate (stay at home) for 14 days, but only those who have symptoms must be tested.”

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Weekly figures show 11 new Covid-19 cases in East Devon – and 50 more in Exeter

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