Devon covid down

The number of number of coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon and Cornwall has dropped nearly 40 per cent this week, down to the lowest levels since September.

Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

A total of 380 new cases were confirmed across the two counties in the last week, down from 650 the week before, and bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 45,964.

Cornwall has the second lowest infection rates of any upper tier authority in England, with Devon third, behind the Isle of Wight.

Of new cases confirmed since 26 February, 78 were in Cornwall, 67 in East Devon, 29 in Exeter, 23 in Mid Devon, 14 in North Devon, 86 in Plymouth, six in South Hams, 24 in Teignbridge, 41 in Torbay, six in Torridge and six in West Devon.

In terms of infection rates per age range, case rates are highest in the over 80s in Devon.

Exeter has its highest infection rates in the 40-59 age range, while every other local district authority has its highest figures in the 20-39s. In Devon, no age group has an infection rate of more than 50/100,000.

The number of patients in Devon’s hospitals following a positive covid-19 test has fallen to levels not seen since the middle of October, and at 43 patients has more than halved in a week. The NHS Nightingale Hospital is empty.

There were 12 patients at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (down from 22 as of Feb 23), zero at the Nightingale (down from 17), 10 at Torbay Hospital (down from 16), 18 in Derriford Hospital in Plymouth (down from 32), two at North Devon District Hospital (unchanged), and one in Devon Partnership NHS Trust units (up from zero).

In the last week, there have been eight deaths in Devon and Cornwall hospitals of patients within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, with three in Cornwall, three in Plymouth, one in Torbay, and one in North Devon.

It comes as Steve Brown, director of public health Devon, said that testing is going to be the cornerstone of transition back to normal life. He said: “Over coming weeks and months, we are going to see a lot more movement of people – students returning to education, more people getting back to work, the loosening of restrictions on how many people we can be in contact with, and in time shops, cafes, and other businesses reopening.

“Coronavirus thrives on socialisation, which is why we see case numbers fall during lockdown, when movement and socialising is restricted.

“Taking a test regularly – the rapid tests that give results within the hour – is going to be an absolutely vital part of our way out of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Local community testing sites are available to anyone who work or whose volunteering requires them to be in contact with other people. We are also encouraging parents of secondary school and college-age students to use the community testing centres, as well as people in support bubbles. The tests are very quick and easy to take and results are texted or emailed back to you within the hour.”

Latest figures on vaccines show that more than half of all adults in East Devon, Torbay and West Devon have now had their first jab.

By 28 February, 461,165 vaccines had delivered in Devon, 445,074 of them first doses. Just under 50,000 vaccinations were carried out last week.