Devon at ‘medium’ Covid alert – with spike in Exeter cases ‘stabilised for the moment’

Devon is at ‘medium’ Covid alert in the three-tiered system of local lockdowns announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.

And the county’s director of public health has explained what the rules will mean to residents and businesses.

Dr Virginia Pearson added that a big rise in coronavirus cases in Exeter – 80 per cent of which are linked to university students – has ‘stabilised for the moment’.

She said: “Like most counties, Devon is currently assigned to be in the ‘medium’ alert level.

“There is no ‘low’ tier, so ‘medium’ is the lowest of the Prime Minister’s three alert levels, which are currently being debated in Parliament before likely adoption on Wednesday.

“Most immediately, it means that we stay on track with the national and local measures that we have already got in place.

“From the public point of view that includes meeting in groups no larger than six people, and certain businesses that sell food and drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.

“Schools, universities and places of worship will remain open, and weddings and funerals can go ahead, but with restricted numbers of attendees.

“However, where national rules apply across the county, so too do local advice and guidance in areas where we see significant numbers of cases.

“In Exeter, the high number of cases – over 80 per cent of which are linked to the university student population – appear to have stabilised for the moment.

“That’s a positive sign, but is by no means a green light to relax the local measures introduced by the university.

“We are meeting daily with the university, Public Health England, Exeter City Council, Exeter College and the police to closely monitor the numbers so that we can be quick to respond and assess whether the current measures in place are sufficient to halt the spread, or whether more advanced restrictions are required.

“Elsewhere in the county, we are seeing a rise generally in the number of cases reflecting the national trend, but at the moment our case numbers remain below the national average.

“The most important thing that we must all do, despite yesterday’s announcement, is not let up. We must all continue to take individual and shared responsibility for our own actions and those around us.

“The now very familiar messages are absolutely essential in halting the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Pearson has urged people to:

  • Keep your distance – two metres is best;
  • Wash your hands well, and regularly;
  • Wear a face covering when indoors in public places, and in enclosed public spaces such as public transport.

She added: “If you develop symptoms – the 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.”

Government advice on the three-tiered local Covid alert system is available here.

A map of what restrictions are in place and where is available here.

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