Another 603 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Exeter in the past week – with ‘clusters’ identified in 13 areas of the city.
Just over half of the positive tests relate to specimen dates in the past seven days, with the rest going back to September.
One-hundred-and-seven new cases had been confirmed across the city in the previous week.
The rise has been mainly attributed to students at the University of Exeter – which has been described as Devon’s ‘biggest worry’.
A total of 1,063 coronavirus cases have now been recorded in Exeter, where the infection rate is 808.9 for every 100,000 people.
Some 1,369 cases have been confirmed in Devon and Cornwall in the last week – but only 54 per cent relate to tests from the last seven days.
That is compared to 381 in the previous week.
Statistics are from both ‘pillar one’ NHS data and ‘pillar two’ data from commercial partners.
‘Clusters’ in 13 areas of Exeter
Thirteen ‘clusters’ – where three or more cases have been confirmed – have been identified in Exeter in:
- Pennsylvania and University (301 cases);
- Central Exeter (86);
- St James Park and Hoopern (48);
- Mincinglake and Beacon Heath (14);
- Heavitree West and Polsloe (11);
- Middlemoor and Sowton (eight);
- St Thomas East (seven);
- St Leonard’s (seven);
- Alphington and Marsh Barton (seven);
- Pinhoe and Whipton North (six);
- Wonford and St Loye’s (six);
- St Thomas West (five);
- Exwick and Foxhayes (three).
The ‘clusters’ data includes lab-confirmed positive cases of coronavirus reported by October 7 with specimen dates between September 29 and October 5.
Figures are based on Middle Super Output Areas (MSOA) in England – broken down into zones of around 7,200 people.
‘Exeter University is our biggest worry’
Devon County Council leader John Hart said much focus has ‘rightly’ been placed on Exeter, adding: “Clearly…Exeter University is our biggest worry.
“Everything there is being kept under intense scrutiny and we’re holding daily incident management meetings.
“But I would say to the residents of Exeter, particularly in places like St James, Newtown, St David’s and Pennsylvania, that so far our statistics do not show any evidence of the cases amongst students being spread into the wider community.
“We have seen spikes in universities across the country and they were not unexpected.
“So I would commend the preparatory work that the university did before the students arrived because their planning enabled us to have early warning of the issue and to respond swiftly.
“There are an extensive range of measures in place to reduce transmission and the cooperation with our partners in Public Health England, the police and the city council has been excellent.
“I’d also like to reiterate what’s been said about local lockdowns. As the situation currently stands, most of the cases in Exeter are in the student population and not in the wider community and so – at the moment – Exeter is not in line for a broad lockdown across the city.
“So how do we ensure we don’t get to that point? We are tracking positive cases constantly so we can respond quickly.
“The university has a comprehensive set of measures in place to reduce transmission among both students and staff.
“For example, students are banned from mixing with other households indoors. Social events and sporting fixtures involving students have been postponed.
“And there’s a regime of enhanced cleaning on campus, in student halls and common areas. Placements for students in health and care have been suspended and the university has upped its communications with parents and the community.
“None of us can be complacent but I can assure you there is a great deal of effort going into containing this outbreak and together we will beat it.”
Cllr Hart, who also chairs the Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board, added: “I want to emphasise that across the rest of Devon we have been keeping levels of coronavirus low.
“Cases are steady and that is largely as a result of the common-sense of the people of this county. And I want to commend them for that.
“But we cannot be complacent and it behoves all of us to make a renewed effort to follow the national guidance.”
Of the 1,369 total across both counties, 745 of the cases have a specimen date between October 2 and 8.
The other 624 cases date back into September.
Of the 745 of the cases with a specimen date between October 2 and 8, 310 were in Exeter and 45 were in East Devon.
There were 17 in Mid Devon, 23 in North Devon, 15 in the South Hams, 45 in Teignbridge, 76 in Plymouth, 45 in Torbay, eight in Torridge, and 15 in West Devon.
The remaining 134 were in Cornwall.
Sharp increase linked to database glitch
The large rise in confirmed cases is partly down to the Public Health England database issues that were widely-reported last weekend.
This meant that, nationally, thousands of cases were not added to figures when they should have happened been.
Backdated cases have therefore been added to the latest statistics.
Of the 1,369 new cases in Devon and Cornwall, 603 were in Exeter and 92 in East Devon.
There were 32 in Mid Devon, 38 in North Devon, 144 in Plymouth, 28 in the South Hams, 69 in Teignbridge, 85 in Torbay, 18 in Torridge, and 23 in West Devon.
Cornwall had 237 new cases.
A total of 1,063 Covid-19 cases have now been recorded in Exeter where the infection rate is 808.9 for every 100,000 people.
The number for East Devon is 397, with the district’s infection rate 271.4.
A total of 491,428 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in England. The national infection rate is 873.1 per 100,000 people.
Elsewhere in the county, Torridge has had a total of 94 positive cases, West Devon 110, the South Hams 179, North Devon 206, Mid Devon 281, Teignbridge 479, Torbay 462, and Plymouth 1,092.
There has been a total of 1,634 cases in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Health chiefs are urging residents to:
- 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 you’re indoors in public spaces and on public transport.
Anyone with symptoms – a high temperature, new and continuous cough, or a change in your sense of smell or taste – should self-isolate straight away and then get a test.
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