Devon and Cornwall Covid rates no longer the highest in England

Covid rates in Devon and Cornwall have dropped by a third in the last week and are no longer the highest in England.

Owl notes the increasing part being played by the local public health teams, who were by-passed in the early stages of the pandemic.

Daniel Clark

A total of 6695 new cases were confirmed across the two counties – with the total since the start of the pandemic at 119433 – down by 33 per cent from last week’s total.

And while rates remain relatively high, they are no longer at the top of the charts in England, as last week 11 of the top 13 areas were in Devon and Cornwall, but that is no longer the case.

Plymouth has the 5 th highest rate in England, with Cornwall 6 th , the only two areas in the top ten. Torbay is 11 th , with South Hams 13 th , and Teignbridge in 17 th the only other areas in the top 20.

Rates have fallen everywhere though, as have the number of new cases recorded, in all of the areas of the two counties.

Government stats show that 6695 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days, to 9685 new cases confirmed last week.

Since August 28, of the 6695 new cases confirmed, 2366 were in Cornwall, 516 in East Devon, 419 in Exeter, 320 in Mid Devon, 342 in North Devon, 1063 in Plymouth, 344 in South Hams, 435 in Teignbridge, 494 in Torbay, 211 in Torridge and 185 in West Devon.

This compares to the 9685 cases confirmed between August 21 and 27, of which, 3781 were in Cornwall, with 715 in East Devon, 662 in Exeter, 428 in Mid Devon, 448 in North Devon, 1229 in Plymouth, 375 in South Hams, 748 in Teignbridge, 679 in Torbay, 335 in Torridge and 285 in West Devon.

The fall comes despite Plymouth, Torbay, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly being elevated to ‘Enhanced Response Area’ status, because case rates in the county were among the highest in England – and the fall in cases and infection rates almost certainly relates to infections caught before the introduced of the status last Friday as they have yet to have time to take any effect.

While no extra restrictions are in place, measures have been rolled out which will help with support measures for education settings and increased national communications support, clearly outlining the continued risks of Covid-19 and the need to take personal action, such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Infection rates across Devon are currently highest in the 0-19s, then the 20-39s, and then by the 40-59s, 60-79s and 80+. But in Torbay and Cornwall, the 20-39s have the highest rates, as does Torridge, West Devon and East Devon at a district level, while in Exeter, the 40-59s have the highest rates.

The latest Government figures, which give the position as of Tuesday, August 31, show that across hospital trusts in the two counties, there has continued to be a rise in the number in hospital – reflecting the rise in cases from previous weeks – going from 152 to 179.

Numbers in Cornwall have gone from 24 to 39, at Derriford Hospital they have risen from 52 to 54, at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, numbers are up from 40 to 51, and in North Devon District Hospital, they have stayed level at 19. But in Torbay, the numbers at Torbay Hospital have fallen from 19 to 16.

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 24, around 17 per cent of beds were occupied by patients ‘with Covid’ and 83 per cent ‘for Covid’.

In the last week, there has been 16 deaths in Devon, two in Cornwall, eight in Plymouth, but just one in Torbay.

In terms of the latest MSOA cluster maps, that cover the period of specimen dates between August 23-29, all 230 areas of Devon and Cornwall reported three or more cases, including the Isles of Scilly with 10, one of four areas alongside St Just & Land’s End, Bow, Lapford & Yeoford and Sidmouth Town recording ten or less.

Newquay East reported 115 cases – half the 228 for the previous seven days, and was the only area above 100, compared to five for the previous week.

St Columb Minor & Porth reported 83, with Ivybridge (77), Cranbrook, Broadclyst & Stoke Canon (75), St Austell Central (72), Chelston, Cockington & Livermead (68) and Ham, Beacon Park & Pennycross (67) the only areas above 67.

Highest areas for each of the other districts were Middlemoor & Sowton (53), Tiverton West (42), Barnstaple South (40), Teignmouth North (52), Bideford South & East (65) and Tavistock (59)

In terms of infection rates, the four worst areas in England are all in Cornwall, with Newquay East, followed by St Columb Minor & Porth, Mid Saltash and Grampound Road, St Newlyn East and Cubert, with Padstow & St Issey 12 th , they are only areas in the top 20 – when last week, there were 17 areas in Devon and Cornwall. Ham, Beacon Park & Pennycross is 23 rd , while Devon’s top area is Tiverton West in 54 th .

Of the population aged 16 and up, 85.9% in Cornwall, 89.8% in East Devon, 78.7% in Exeter, 88.5% in Mid Devon, 87.2% in North Devon, 83.3% in Plymouth, 87.6% in South Hams, 88.8% in Teignbridge, 85.2% in Torbay, 88.4% in Torridge, and 89.9% in West Devon, have had one dose.

And of the population aged 16 and up, 78.8% in Cornwall, 82.8% in East Devon, 69.2% in Exeter, 81.1% in Mid Devon, 80.1% in North Devon, 73.9% in Plymouth, 79.9% in South Hams, 81.8% in Teignbridge, 77.4% in Torbay, 80.9% in Torridge and 82.6% in West Devon, have had a second dose.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said; “We’re going to see better use of our community testing vans. We’ve got five testing vans, which go out across Devon. Two of those vans already have embedded vaccination teams, so they’re going out to areas where there’s low uptake of vaccine and encouraging particularly young people and people who probably wouldn’t ordinarily go to our fixed vaccination sites to come forward to get vaccinated.

“We’re going to be looking at testing as well to make sure that there is testing capability across the whole of Devon, so people can access testing swiftly and easily.

“We’re also going to see an increase in our public health campaigns, to encourage people to get tested if they have symptoms, and obviously to take up the vaccination programme.”

Coronavirus cases have fallen a little in the latest recorded week, Mr Brown added: “We’ve all got a vital role to play. Please, if you’re eligible to be vaccinated, get your vaccination.

“If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – high temperature, loss of sense of smell or taste, or persistent cough – please isolate and then book yourself a PCR test.

“I’d also encourage people to test regularly using lateral flow tests, particularly when going out to visit vulnerable people; or you’re going to an event maybe; or you’ve come back from an event. These would be ideal times to take a lateral flow test.

“And also please don’t forget the good, old-fashioned public health measures – washing your hands, wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces, and social distancing where we can.

“Together we can help keep the rate as low as possible as we go into the Autumn and Winter.”

Professor Mike Wade, Deputy Regional Director and NHS Regional Director for Public Health England South West said: “With cases of COVID remaining high everyone is asked to continue to act carefully and responsibly.

“Day trippers, holidaymakers and residents need to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and continue to exercise caution.”

FULL LIST OF MSOA in the Devon Live article