Record-breaking weekly Covid case numbers reported

The highest number of new coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon and Cornwall has been recorded in the last week – with big rises everywhere.

Daniel Clark 

A total of 10,005 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed across the two counties – with the total since the start of the pandemic at 102,770 – with everywhere seeing a rise and the total up 40% – and a huge proportion of the new cases in those aged 15-19.

It is the highest weekly total in terms of the number of new cases, with Thursday and Friday both seeing more than 2,000 new cases confirmed, with Cornwall seeing 953 new cases on Friday alone.

Government stats show that 10,005 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days, to 6,642 new cases confirmed last week.

Since August 14, of the 10,005 new cases confirmed, 3,603 were in Cornwall, 750 in East Devon, 742 in Exeter, 431 in Mid Devon, 496 in North Devon, 1,222 in Plymouth, 487 in South Hams, 755 in Teignbridge, 868 in Torbay, 345 in Torridge and 306 in West Devon.

This compares to the 6,642 new cases confirmed between August 7-13, of which 2,250 were in Cornwall, 388 in East Devon, 582 in Exeter, 295 in Mid Devon, 409 in North Devon, 897 in Plymouth, 244 in South Hams, 535 in Teignbridge, 681 in Torbay, 207 in Torridge and 154 in West Devon.

Infection rates across Devon and Cornwall are currently highest in the 20-39s, but are falling, followed by the 0-19s, where rates are rising, and then by the 40-59s, 60-79s and 80+ in every region.

In Exeter though, the 40-59s have higher rates than the 0-19s, while West Devon has higher rates in the 80+s than the 60-79s.

For the week ending August 15, Torbay has England fourth highest infection rate, with Exeter sixth, with Teignbridge also inside the top 20.

Cornwall is just outside the top 20, but as data shown are cases by specimen date and because these are incomplete for the most recent dates and the period represented is the seven days ending five days prior, the huge spike which began with specimens from August 16 is not included yet in the data.

The latest Government figures, which give the position as of Tuesday, August 17, show that across hospital trusts in the two counties, there are 164 patients currently in hospital in the two counties – up from 107 as 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.

In Cornwall, there are currently 24 patients, up from 18 as of last Tuesday.

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.

In the last week, there has been six deaths in Devon, one in Cornwall, and two in Plymouth, but none in Torbay.

In terms of the latest MSOA cluster maps, that cover the period of specimen dates between August 9-15, all 230 areas of Devon and Cornwall reported three or more cases, with only nine areas reporting ten cases or fewer, including three on the Isles of Scilly.

Newquay East reported 122 cases, and has the highest infection rate of any of the MSOAs in England, while Cranbrook, Broadclyst & Stoke Canon (82), Middlemoor & Sowton (76), Chelston, Cockington & Livermead (74), Blatchcombe & Blagdon (73), St Columb Minor & Porth (73), Shiphay & the Willows (67), Newquay West (61) and Pinhoe & Whipton North (60) all saw 60 or more.

Highest areas for each of the other districts were Crediton (50), Braunton (45), Millbay & Stonehouse (50), Ivybridge (46), Teignmouth South (58), Bideford South & East (55), and Hatherleigh, Exbourne & North Tawton (36).

Of the adult population, 86.5% in Cornwall, 90.2% in East Devon, 78.8% in Exeter, 89% in Mid Devon, 87.7% in North Devon, 83.6% in Plymouth, 88.2% in South Hams, 89.3% in Teignbridge, 85.7% in Torbay, 89.1% in Torridge, and 89.7% in West Devon, have had one dose.

And of the adult population, 76.8% in Cornwall, 81% in East Devon, 64.2% in Exeter, 78.7% in Mid Devon, 78.5% in North Devon, 71,6% in Plymouth, 78.9% in South Hams, 80.6% in Teignbridge, 77.3% in Torbay, 80.1% in Torridge and 81.5% in West Devon, have had a second dose.

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.

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.”

A spokesperson from Cornwall Council said: “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.”