COVID cases linked to Uni fall but indoor mixing ban extended

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health for Devon has today welcomed the continued reduction in student cases in Exeter but had warned of the need for extra vigilance across the City and the rest of Devon as wider community cases rise.

Daniel Clark  www.devonlive.com

University of Exeter students are being asked to not to mix households indoors for a further seven days in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

While cases linked and confirmed in students at the University of Exeter have been dropping in the last week – the Pennsylvania and University MSOA has fallen from a height of 307 down to 169 – the University has extended the indoor household mixing ban until October 26 in a bid to drive down the infections further.

It comes as Devon’s Director of Public Health has warned of the need for residents to be vigilant as coronavirus cases in the community continue to be identified.

While the rolling average of new cases in the county has been dropping in recent days, the drop is mainly related to the fall in cases being confirmed in students at the University of Exeter.

Exeter University Forum

Exeter University Forum (Image: Google)

Mike Shore-Nye, Registrar and Secretary, at the University of Exeter, said: “We know from our close working with Public Health England that the measures we have introduced and the fact that our colleagues and students have responded so well have been a major factor in our regions being placed in the ‘medium’ (lowest) rather than ‘high’ risk level with no further restrictions introduced at this time.

“We also know that this is a fragile position and that we must remain steadfast in our commitment to prevent the virus spreading. The latest Devon County Council COVID-19 dashboard, dated 14 October, shows that there were 262 positive cases in Exeter over the preceding 7 days, and PHE tell us that more than 70 per cent of these are linked to the University. We also know that in the 7 days up to 13 October there were fewer than five cases related to our Cornwall Campus. We have seen no increase in the small number of staff cases.

“The case numbers related to our campuses in Exeter have fallen over the past 7 days. We continue to discuss the data and the underlying picture with our PHE colleagues and we are hopeful that we now see signs that the numbers of cases are no longer rising. This is due to the efforts of all of you in adhering to the guidelines and in doing so showing respect and compassion for all members of our local communities.

“These are very early signs, and for this reason I am once again asking students based in Exeter to continue not to meet indoors with students who are not part of your household for a further 7 days, until October 26.

“If we can establish a clear trend in the reduction of cases associated with the University then we can hope to reduce these restrictions and increase the amount of teaching and activities we are able to deliver on campus. To achieve this we must all continue to follow the COVID-19 rules.”

He added that in recognition of the low number of cases attributed to the Cornwall Campus, the Students’ Union have been able to begin the phased reintroduction of COVID-safe, in-person student society events.

He added: “We are working with the Students’ Guild and Athletic Union to begin the reintroduction of COVID-safe indoor sports activities next week, if we see no evidence of an increase in positive cases. We are also asking students not to join sports teams based in the community at this time, to further reduce the risk of community transmission.”

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health for Devon has today welcomed the continued reduction in student cases in Exeter but had warned of the need for extra vigilance across the City and the rest of Devon as wider community cases rise.

“The pattern in Exeter has shown a successful reduction in student cases with no sign of significant spread thanks to the swift actions of the University and other partners in working together to contain the situation. But we must not be complacent,” she said.

“We are now seeing more community cases in Exeter and across Devon, in line with the rise in the rest of the country, particularly in the working age population, and we expect cases to increase over the next few weeks.

“These cases cannot be linked to university students and the coronavirus appears to be passing between people outside of COVID-secure settings, which suggests that community spread is now occurring.

“Obviously, we want to limit the impact on people in older age groups and on to those who are particularly vulnerable so the time to act is now.

“Everyone – and particularly those people of working age – must be extra vigilant about maintaining social distancing, handwashing, wearing face coverings and avoiding social mixing if they can.”

Coronavirus cases in Devon as of Oct 15

Coronavirus cases in Devon as of Oct 15

Across Devon’s eight districts, cases in East Devon and Exeter are dropping by specimen date – although the latter is primarily due to the large drop in University cases – while Mid Devon and West Devon are seeing cases flatline.

Cases in North Devon, South Hams and Torridge – although the latter from a very low level – are rising, while Teignbridge has also seen a rise but that has now flattened off.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.