Appeal to wear face coverings
Covid cases continue to rise across much of Devon, where the county council’s director of public health has asked people to step up prevention measures.
In the week to Thursday 21 October cases increased by around 15 per cent in all three main council areas: Devon, Torbay and Plymouth.
Devon and Plymouth’s numbers of cases per 100,000 people now stand at around 520, while the number in Torbay is 470. By comparison, the UK average is now 486.
Of the county’s eight districts, every area apart from Torridge – where cases fell slightly – rose again. The South Hams recorded by far the biggest rise, more than doubling and putting its infection rate above the national average at 525 cases per 100,000.
Exeter’s number of infections rose by a quarter, though its rate of 411 still ranks below the national picture, while Mid Devon, East Devon and Teignbridge also had increases of 15 per cent or over.
At 641 cases per 100,000, Mid Devon now has the highest covid rate in the county, with West Devon at 632.
The new figures come as Steve Brown, Devon’s director of public health, said people cannot rely solely on the vaccine to combat covid. He urges everyone to improve prevention measures to avoid re-introduction of restrictions.
He said: “The vaccination, while extremely effective, cannot be used in isolation as a measure to combat coronavirus.
“Rising case rates now, as we head towards winter, indicate a changing level of risk. The more cases there are in the community, the more risk there is to us personally of catching and spreading it to our families and friends.
“Even though it’s not mandatory to do so, we all need to think about wearing face coverings in crowded and indoor places when mixing with others and as required when on public transport.
“Remember, others benefit from you wearing your face covering, so it needs all of us to do the right thing by each other and remember the importance of face coverings.”
Mr Brown recommends socialising outdoors where possible and, if indoors, to remember the importance of ventilation. He says keeping a little distance from each other and washing hands regularly, including sanitising in shops, is still an effective way to reduce risk.
In addition, he said: “Use lateral flow device tests to regularly test yourself twice a week if not showing symptoms, and self-isolate and take a PCR test the moment you develop covid symptoms.”
The recent rise in case numbers across the county has led to an increase – of 10 – in the number of people being treated this week for covid in Devon’s hospitals.
Latest figures for Tuesday 19 October show 118 covid patients in the county’s hospitals, 49 of which are at Derriford in Plymouth, 28 at the RD&E, 24 in Torbay and 17 in North Devon. Of the total number of patients, nine are on mechanical ventilation beds.
Thirteen more people died in the county within 28 days of testing positive for covid in the latest complete weekly period (up to Thursday 20 October). Twelve were in the Devon County Council area and one person in Torbay.
A total of 1,271 people in Devon (including Plymouth and Torbay) have died within 28 days of a positive test since the pandemic began.
The number of people aged 12 and over who have received at least one dose of a vaccine is 84 per cent in the Devon County Council area, 82 per cent in Torbay and 81 per cent in Plymouth.
The proportion of people who are fully vaccinated with both jabs is 79 per cent in Devon, 77 per cent in Torbay and 74 per cent in Plymouth.