‘Renewed efforts’ plea as Covid cases rocket in Exeter and rise further in East Devon

Devon has seen a big rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in the last three days – including 285 in Exeter and 33 in East Devon.  

The spike has seen all residents in the county – especially those in their late-teens to mid-20s – urged to make ‘renewed efforts’ to reduce the spread of the virus.

A proportion of the cases have been attributed to the widely-reported technical glitch in the last week of September meant nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus went unreported nationally.

Latest Public Health England statistics from this afternoon (Monday) also show Covid ‘clusters’ have now been confirmed in nine areas of Exeter.

There are further ‘clusters’ – where three or more cases have been identified – in the Clyst, Exton and Lympstone and Cranbrook, Broadclyst and Stoke Canon wards in East Devon.

Devon’s director of public health Dr Virginia Pearson said the spike in the city requires ‘focussed attention’ but is largely within the university student population.

Over the last three days, 33 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in East Devon and 285 in Exeter.

There have been 14 in Mid Devon, nine in North Devon, ten in the South Hams, 21 in Torbay, 24 in Teignbridge, six in Torridge and seven in West Devon.

The number for Plymouth is 62 and 110 in Cornwall.

The Government’s latest data map includes lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus reported by October 3 – with specimen dates between September 25 and October 1.

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

New clusters of three cases have today been identified in the Heavitree West and Polsloe, St Thomas East, and Mincinglake and Beacon Heath areas.

The Pennsylvania and University ward (127 cases), Central Exeter (31), St James’s Park and Hoopern (23), Middlemoor and Sowton (seven), Pinhoe and Whipton North (five), and St Leonard’s (four) remain on the map.

In East Devon, there are clusters in Cranbrook, Broadclyst & Stoke Canon (five cases) and Clyst, Exton and Lympstone (six).

Dr Pearson said: “We expect to see confirmed cases continue to rise while the national reporting is refreshed.

“Despite the rise, the county of Devon still has fewer confirmed cases than most other local authority areas of comparable population and density.

“However, the latest data does now show a rise in Exeter, still largely within the University of Exeter student population, that requires focused attention.

“We have been working very closely with Public Health England, the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council, and already measures have been taken to reduce the wider spread of infection.

“They include restricting movement between university student households in the city, and increased testing capacity for their students and staff.

“Analysis to date has shown infection spreading in social settings and in and between student households and accommodation, and we are continuing to work with the university to reduce risk in that context.

“The rise in non-university student cases in Exeter mirrors similar increases across the county, suggesting little evidence so far of spread into city communities.

“We ask every Devon resident of all ages, but especially the late teen to mid-twenties, to make renewed efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“To avoid far tighter restrictions on our movements, we must all play our part:

  • Keep a safe distance from others, two metres is preferable;
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water and use hand sanitiser where it is provided;
  • Wear a face covering when indoors in public spaces with other people from outside your household or bubble; and when in enclosed public spaces such as on public transport.

“If you have symptoms – high temperature, new and continuous cough, or change in your sense of smell or taste – you must self-isolate straight away. Do that, then arrange the test.

“If a person in your household tests positive, all members of the household must self-isolate for the full 14 days.

“Other members of the household do not need to be tested unless they develop symptoms.

“If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace because you have been in close contact with a confirmed case, advising you to self-isolate for 14 days, do so for the full duration.

“Self-isolation properly is vital to reducing the risk of infection spreading.  There must not be shortcuts.

“These rules require us all to pay attention and to take individual and collective responsibility. The sooner we control the spread of the infection, the sooner we can expect restrictions to loosen.

“We are monitoring the latest data very closely so that we can be quick to respond and can assess whether the restrictions currently in place are sufficient, or whether additional tighter measures are required.”

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Covid ‘cluster’ confirmed in Clyst, Exton and Lympstone – as well as six parts of Exeter