Increases 150 per cent in a week
More than 100 new coronavirus cases across Devon and Cornwall have been confirmed in the last week for which figures are available.
It is the highest number since May and follows an outbreak of 11 cases in Plymouth following teenagers returning from the Greek island of Zante.
However the number of people in hospital in the whole of the south west, which is a huge area including Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, has fallen to just 13, the lowest number since figures began to be recorded in April.
Of the 102 new cases, 19 were in Cornwall, with nine in East Devon, nine in Exeter, nine in Mid Devon, six in North Devon, 21 in Plymouth, seven in the South Hams, seven in Teignbridge, 14 in Torbay, and one in West Devon. Torridge had no new cases confirmed.
There is a cluster of five cases in Mutley in Plymouth, three in Peverell in Plymouth, four in Wellswood in Torbay, four in Teignmouth North in Teignbridge, three in Bradninch, Silverton and Thorverton in Mid Devon, and three in Cullompton. Every other measured region of Devon and Cornwall – small patches of around 7,200 average population – have had two or fewer cases in that time period.
The rise in cases has been put down to Devon residents returning home from trips abroad, having contracted coronavirus infection while away on holiday.
Devon’s director of public health, Dr Virginia Pearson, said they were picked up by the NHS test and trace programme on their return to the country, and all appropriate containment procedures, including self-isolation, have been followed. She added: “These cases show how vital it is that we all remain extra vigilant when travelling at home or abroad. The NHS test and trace system has done its job here very well, and we’re confident that the risk of onward infection in the community is very low as a result of residents doing the right thing and taking the right actions quickly.
“What it does show is that people need to be extra careful when travelling abroad and must continue to respect social distancing, wash their hands regularly, avoid crowded areas and wear face coverings as directed. If people do fall ill with symptoms of covid-19 while away they need to avoid contact with others as much as possible, be careful when travelling back from the airport, self-isolate immediately when back home and phone 111 for advice on testing.
In Plymouth, a group of 11 youngsters, all aged 18 or 19, testing positive for COVID-19 following a holiday in the Greek island of Zante. The city's director of public health, Dr Ruth Harrell, visited restaurants and pubs after returning home but before they were aware they had tested positive for the virus, with most having no or very minor symptoms.
She added: “We know that some of these young people had no symptoms, and so carried on as normal, including a night out in Plymouth’s bars and restaurants, until they became aware of the risk,” she said. “That means more people could be infected “We are in contact with all the pubs and bars across the city to remind them of their frontline role in stopping the spread of this virus. They need to help us to protect the city. But it also needs everyone to help too."
The last death in a hospital in Devon and Cornwall occurred on June 29, and latest ONS figures show only four people in the two counties had covid-19 mentioned on their death certificate in July. That was down from 20 in June, 118 in May, 373 in April, and 53 in March.
The R Rate for the South West is now being estimated as between 0.9 and 1.1, up from 0.8 to 1.1 as of last week but it covers a large geographical area and low case numbers mean the estimates is insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions.