Council offices close
East Devon District Council has sent all its staff home from its Blackdown Hills HQ at Honiton because of a possible case of Coronavirus,
The building shut to the public at noon on Friday. The case isn't yet confirmed and the action has been taken as a precaution. The offices will be thoroughly cleansed and at this stage are expected to reopening early next week.
The council says the person is "displaying potential symptoms and although the risk is very low, we are taking the correct measures. All members of staff have been sent home and the majority will be able to continue working remotely."
The person had recently returned from a high-risk country.
Devon now has more confirmed cases than any other local authority. Seven people are infected in the county, outside the Torbay and Plymouth unitary authority areas.
Radio Exe understands that the council may not have followed government advice in acting so swiftly on what at this stage is a suspected, rather than a confirmed case. A source close to a council says that acting on unconfirmed cases can lead to scaremongering and unnecessary damage to the economy at a time when general flu and cold bugs are common. East Devon District Council will not comment further on their statement and is directing enquiries to Public Health England. We are asking that body to confirm the situation.
Separately, Radio Exe understands that coronavirus has reached the Exeter area. We’re being told reliably that at least one person in Exeter now has the disease and some of his family have self-isolated. It’s not clear why information hasn’t been announced publicly – but the situation is fluid. Public Health England says the number of cases in the south west has risen to 22, up seven in the 24 hours to 7am on Friday.
Meanwhile, Exeter City Council says that as it’s not the key local authority responsible for public health, it’s first priority will be to protect its workforce – whilst trying to fulfil all its services. We’ll have more as the situation develops.