Second big drop in two weeks
Coronavirus cases in Devon and Cornwall has fallen by a third for the second week in a row.
A total of 1,547 new cases were confirmed across the two counties in the last week, the lowest total for seven weeks. That's down from 2,327 new cases last week. Nearly 43,000 have now tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.
Devon has the lowest infection rates of any county council authority in England, while of its eight districts, seven of them are in the bottom 10 of the 315 council areas.
Of the 1,547 cases confirmed in the week from 29 January, 592 were in Cornwall, 108 in East Devon, 51 in Exeter, 105 in Mid Devon, 27 in North Devon, 242 in Plymouth, 55 in South Hams, 114 in Teignbridge, 203 in Torbay, 11 in Torridge and 39 in West Devon.
Torridge has the lowest infection rate in England (35 per 100,000 people), with North Devon second (39/100,000), Exeter third (56/100,000), West Devon fourth (74/100,000), South Hams fifth (78/100,000), East Devon seventh (96/100,000), Teignbridge ninth (100/100,000) in the bottom ten. Plymouth’s is at 116/100,000, with Mid Devon 119/100,000, Cornwall at 151/100,000 and Torbay at 170/100,000.
The number of patients in Devon’s hospitals following a positive covid test has fallen by nearly 20 per cent in the last week – as beds occupied remain the lowest in England. As of Tuesday morning, 403 patients were in one of the county's hospitals with covid, down from 442 the previous week.
Patient numbers have fallen in Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay, and have remained unchanged in North Devon, while the Nightingale Hospital Exeter has seen a slight rise as it continues to take in patients from elsewhere in the country.
On Tuesday, 58 covid patients were at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (down from 80 as of Jan 26), 57 at the Nightingale (up from 55), 35 at Torbay Hospital (down from 42), 92 in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth (down from 112), 8 at North Devon District Hospital (unchanged), and four in Devon Partnership NHS Trust units (up from 3) although not all patients are local given some have been transferred to the region from elsewhere.
The figure for the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital of 58 patients is the lowest that they have been treating for nearly three months – when there were 55 patients on 7 November. But in Cornwall, the number of patients in hospital has risen slightly, up to 149 from the 143 as of last week.
And the number of patients in mechanical ventilation beds across the two counties is slightly up, with 20 in Derriford, 10 at the Royal Devon and Exeter, and seven in Torbay, up from 35, while in Cornwall, the total has risen from 13 to 14.
In the last week, 30 people have died in Devon and Cornwall hospitals within 28 days of a positive covid-19 test: 10 at Derriford, 10 in Cornwall, five in Exeter, three in North Devon and two in Torbay. Last week saw 73 deaths for the same reporting period.
Steve Brown, director of public health Devon, said: “It looks like the current restrictions are having a positive impact and we are starting to see cases come down. But we’re still seeing cases spreading between work colleagues. It’s often not because of the work place practices themselves, it’s more a consequence of social interaction between colleagues while at work. And too often, it’s the virus spreading between colleagues who are car sharing.”
By the end of January, more than 200,000 people in Devon had received their first covid-19 vaccine, the highest in the South West, latest NHS England figures show.
The statistics, which provide the position as of January 31, show that there have been 217,344 vaccinations in the county, with 204,815 of them being the first dose.