Coronavirus cases rising in Devon and falling in Cornwall

The number of coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon has doubled in the past week – but has nearly halved in Cornwall.

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

Government statistics show that 42 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 34 new cases confirmed last week.

It means that an average of 6 rather than 4.85 cases a day are being confirmed across the two counties, with 32 of the 42 cases having a specimen date having a specimen date from August 14 to August 21, and the other ten dating back to August 10.

The number of confirmed cases in Cornwall over the last week has dropped from 14 to eight, while the same number of cases, seven, were recorded in Plymouth – of which four were in the Honicknowle & Manadon MSOA area.

Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population tested

In Torbay, the number has risen from one to three, while across the rest of Devon, the numbers have more than doubled, from 12 to 26.

It means that in Cornwall, at present, 1.14 cases a day on average are being confirmed, with one case a day in Plymouth, with 0.42 cases in Torbay and 3.71 across the rest of Devon.

Of the cases confirmed in the last week, four of Cornwall’s cases occurred with the specimen date of August 14 or later, with five of the cases in Plymouth, 22 in Devon, and one case in Torbay.

Across the Devon County Council area, of the 22 cases, nine were in East Devon (of which four were in Seaton), four in Exeter, three in Mid Devon and North Devon, two in the South Hams and Teignbridge, and one in Torridge. No new cases were confirmed this week in West Devon.

By specimen date, the most recent case in Teignbridge, Exeter, Mid Devon, Torridge and the South Hams is from August 19, from August 18 in East Devon, Plymouth, North Devon, Torbay, and Cornwall, and August 10 in West Devon.

Across the whole of the South West, 230 cases have so far been confirmed for the previous seven day period, with 68 of them in Swindon, which despite media reports of facing a ‘local lockdown’, has seen the number of new cases decrease in the past week.

In terms of cases by specimen between August 11 to August 17 and reported by August 21, there are two Middle Super Output Areas across Devon and Cornwall that had four cases confirmed – Honicknowle & Manadon in Plymouth and Seaton in East Devon. Everywhere has had between 0-2 cases.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 in the South West has fallen in the previous week, dropping down to 17 from 18, with there being just one person in intensive care.

This week saw three hospital deaths in the South West – but the last death in a hospital in Devon and Cornwall occurred on June 29 – and for the second week in a row, no deaths were recorded in Devon in the ONS statistics.

The R Rate for the South West is now being estimated as between 0.8 and 1.1, up from 0.8 to 1.0 as of last week, and could be both the lowest and highest in the country, but it covers a large geographical area and low case numbers mean the estimates is insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions.

Torridge remains the place in England with the lowest overall positivity rate, and is 3rd in the overall table behind Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides) and the Orkney Islands.

Including Scotland and Wales as well, the South Hams is 7th, North Devon 9th, West Devon 10th, Teignbridge 13th, East Devon 14th, Cornwall 15th, Exeter 21 st , Torbay 27th, Mid Devon 48th and Plymouth 51st of the 369 regions

In total, Torridge has had 57 positive cases, West Devon 75, with 103 in the South Hams, 125 in North Devon, 215 in Mid Devon, 217 in Teignbridge, 239 in East Devon, 258 in Exeter, 288 in Torbay, 693 in Plymouth and 961 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Testing being carried out at Leeds Temple Green Park and Ride, part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more NHS workers (Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

The COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and sending these specimens to laboratories around the UK to be tested. If the test is positive, this is a referred to as a lab-confirmed case.

Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested.

The data is now shown by the date the specimen was taken from the person being tested and while it gives a useful analysis of the progression of cases over time, it does mean that the latest days’ figures may be incomplete.

Cases received from laboratories by 12:30am are included in the counts published that day. While there may have been new cases of coronavirus confirmed or people having tested positive, those test results either yet to reach PHE for adding to the dataset or were not received in time for the latest daily figures to be published.

Putting these figures in a broader perspective

Owl has been tracking the Covid Symptom study as a useful proxy measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 because it is based on a very large (though self-selecting) sample and provides consistency across time. Over the UK the study estimates of infection rates correlate with the latest ONS estimates. It is becoming recognised that, to date, most officially confirmed cases present an underestimate and there is a considerable number of asymptomatic or very mild cases. What this table shows is that the number of active cases in the community shows considerable volatility but there is no particular cause for alarm at the moment.

8 July

15 July 25 July 30 July 21 August
North Devon 79 324 1076 561 327
East Devon 483 181 865 300 285
Torbay 386 715 228 Zero 331
South Hams 529 306 713 706

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Estimated active case/million people under revised calculation methods (prevalence)  Aged 20-69

The Covid symptom study is now converting prevalence and showing estimated active cases (people with symptoms and likely to be infective) for each district as follows:

North Devon 19; East Devon 29; Torbay 25; South Hams 17