Record numbers of coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Devon with more than 1000 cases alone reported in today’s Government update.
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
In the latest daily figures, the Devon County Council area saw 1040 further 872 Covid-19 positive cases added – the first time that figure has breached the four figure mark – with a further 285 in Plymouth and 159 in Torbay.
East Devon (172), North Devon (122), Teignbridge (204), Torridge (88) and West Devon (95) all saw single day records for the number of new cases confirmed, as did Cornwall with 872 – taking the total tally for the two counties past the 100,000 mark.
The 1484 cases is the highest single daily figure yet for new positives in Devon – with the vast majority of cases coming from specimens taken on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday this week – although Plymouth and Torbay have each seen higher daily totals.
The overwhelming majority of the new cases are in the 15-19 age range bracket.
And so far, 777 specimens from Monday and a staggering 1026 specimens from Tuesday have been reported as positive in the Devon County Council area – higher than the previous single day record of 601 – and those figures are likely to rise in the upcoming days as specimens from the most recent five days of data are excluded from infection rate calculations as they are ‘subject to change’ due to lag in reporting positives.
It means that Devon’s infection rate for the week ending August 14 is at 363.8/100,000 – just shy of the record rates seen a month ago – will explode and soar to new heights in the upcoming days when the newer cases replace those from the seven days prior – with the totals for August 16 and 17 already more than double those of August 9 and 10.
At upper tier level, Torbay has the second highest infection rate of 535.2/100,000 – with only Kingston-upon-Hull higher, with Exeter the 6 th highest at a lower tier level.
The record number of cases comes just days after the Boardmasters festival in Newquay – and following reports that a growing number of young people who attended the festival at Watergate Bay have contracted the virus.
Boardmasters had worked closely with experts from Cornwall Council’s Public Health service, wider Cornwall Council departments, the NHS and emergency services to put in place a variety of measures to manage the risk of infection at what is effectively a pop-up town with 50,000 temporary residents and visitors.
It is unclear yet how much of a link, if any, between the festival and the newly reported cases there has been, as figures relating to age of those testing positive and the MSOA area they reside in are also based on the five-day specimen delay.
But a spokesperson for the festival had previously said they would be monitoring the impact that it had on rates, adding: “In addition to having the advantage of perhaps the best ventilated venue in the country, we asked festival goers to play their part in reducing the impact of potential infection by showing proof of full vaccination, a negative lateral flow test or immunity from having had the virus before they could join us on site.
“All staff, regardless of vaccination status, had to show a negative test every 48 hours and all campers were asked to re-test before they could come back into the arena on Friday.
“By giving those who had to isolate on festival dates, or who tested positive for Covid-19 before or during the festival, the ability to roll-over their tickets to 2022, we made sure they would not lose out by following the guidance and helping to reduce infections. We are processing over 450 requests from those affected and we are very grateful to them for doing their bit for the entire Boardmasters community.”
The spokesperson added: “Like any town, we cannot eliminate risk entirely and, while it is still too early to see from the data if there has been any impact on Covid-19 cases, there are likely to be anecdotal reports of some people who were at the festival among those who test positive in the days following. Cornwall Council’s public health team will be closely monitoring the data in the coming weeks, as will we.”
A spokesperson from Cornwall Council agreed it was still too early to say whether the festival has had any impact on Covid case numbers in the county.
“We will be monitoring the data closely as we have done throughout the pandemic. Our advice to residents and anyone visiting Cornwall remains the same – if you have Covid symptoms then isolate immediately and book a PCR test. If you have no symptoms, please continue to test twice a week with rapid Lateral Flow Tests which are available for free from pharmacies or can be delivered to your home,” added the council spokesperson.
A statement issued by Devon County Council on Thursday added: “Festivals, and any such large gatherings where there are a lot of people crowded together, are environments that bring with them heightened risk of transmission.
“And when audiences to those gatherings include younger people, who are not all vaccinated, then the risk of transmission again is greater.
“The same is true though of any event or setting where there’s socialising. It’s not just festivals.
“So perhaps it should not surprise us that the majority of positive cases in Devon now – holiday, events and festival time – are in the 15 to 19 year old age group, and that socialising is the main driver of that trend.
“The largest proportion of positive cases continue to be in the younger age groups including those working in hospitality and other sectors.
“Vaccination levels are increasing rapidly in the younger age groups, and that’s important to stop the spread of the virus and serious illness.”
It comes as the number of people in hospital following a positive Covid-19 test in Devon has risen in the last week.
The latest Government figures, which give the position as of Tuesday, August 17, show that across hospital trusts in Devon there are 120 patients currently in hospital in the two counties – up from 89as of August 10.
Numbers at Derriford Hospital have risen from 42 to 48 and to the highest level since February 15.
At the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, numbers are up from 28 to 34, and to the highest level since February 10.
In Torbay, the numbers at Torbay Hospital have more than doubled from 11 to 24, and to the highest number since February 15.
And at North Devon District Hospital, numbers have leapt from eight to 14, and to the highest number since January 6.
Of the 120, there were 18 patients in a mechanical ventilation bed – but despite the increase in patients in hospital, numbers are still only about a fifth of the peak of hospitalisations from January, although due to the lag between infection and illness, won’t take into account the most recent positive cases.
The figures show how many patients are in hospital following a positive test for Covid-19, but not whether they were admitted for Covid-related reasons, whether they were infected inside the hospital, or whether their admission was entirely unrelated but they happened to have Covid at the same time – figures for the South West show on August 10, around 25 per cent of beds were occupied by ‘non-Covid’ patients – up from 15 per cent a fortnight ago.