Posted: 12.09.20 at 12:18 by Joseph Bulmer and Daniel Clark
The number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the last seven days has risen by 150 per cent across Devon and Cornwall with 18 new cases reported in East Devon this week.
Government statistics show that 154 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 96 new cases confirmed last week.
Thirty new cases were confirmed this week in Cornwall, with 12 in Torbay, with 71 across the Devon County Council area, and 39 in Plymouth.
Cases confirmed across Cornwall and Devon County Council areas have doubled, in Torbay tripled, but in Plymouth, they have fallen, with 39 cases compared to the 40 last week.
Of the 154 new cases, 30 were in Cornwall, with 18 in East Devon, 17 in Exeter, four in Mid Devon, eight in North Devon, 39 in Plymouth, seven in the South Hams, nine in Teignbridge, 12 in Torbay, six in Torridge, and two in West Devon.
However, not all of the 154 cases related to specimen dates from the last week, with only 96 of the cases having a specimen date of between September 4 and September 10, with the majority of the remaining 58 cases being from September 1-3, including some that were reported today, with the most ancient case being on in Cornwall from August 25.
Of the 96 of the cases had a specimen date of between September 4 and September 10, 15 of Cornwall cases occurred in that period, with six in East Devon, 11 in Exeter, two in Mid Devon, six in North Devon, three in the South Hams, seven in Teignbridge, 34 in Plymouth, seven in Torbay, three in Torridge, and two in West Devon.
By specimen date, the most recent case in Cornwall, Exeter, Plymouth, Teignbridge and Torridge is September 9, is September 7 for East Devon and North Devon, September 6 for Mid Devon, Torbay and West Devon, and September 5 for the South Hams.
While further cases are likely to be added in upcoming days, cases by specimen date across the region have been trending down from numbers from tests on September 2, 3 and 4, compared to more recent days, although this could be related to testing capacity shortages.
Of the cases with a specimen date of between September 1 to 7, there are currently 11 clusters where three of more cases have been confirmed in a Middle Super Output Area – seven in Devon and four in Plymouth.
There is a cluster of four cases in Clyst, Exton and Lympstone, and in Cranbrook, Broadclyst and Stoke Canon, in East Devon, three cases in Wonford and St Loyes, and Pennsylvania and University, in Exeter, a cluster of three Bishop’s Nympton, Witheridge & Chulmleigh in North Devon,and four cases in Wellswood and Churston and Galmpton in Torbay.
Plymouth currently has four clusters, all of three cases, in Cattedown and Prince Rock, Mutley, Plymstock Hooe and Oreston, and Honicknowle and Manadon.
Clusters in Dartington and Loddiswell, and Ivybridge, in the South Hams, Bradninch, Silverton and Thorverton, Chudleigh and Bovey Tracey, Plympton Underwood, North Prospect and Mannamead and Hartley have dropped off the map in the last week.
Every other MSOA region of Devon and Cornwall – small patches of around 7,200 average population – have had two or fewer cases in that time period, with it now been nine weeks since the last cluster was registered in Cornwall.
And while the number of cases being confirmed still remains relatively low, not all of the new cases are linked to returning international travellers, which has been the pattern previously.
Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon and Chair of the multi-agency COVID-19 Health Protection Board, said: “Although Devon’s rates have been comparatively low so far, we cannot be complacent.
“Just like the rest of the country, we have seen a significant rise in the number of confirmed cases in September. Not all new cases are now linked to returning international travellers, which was the pattern we had seen recently.
“We must remember that coronavirus is still a very real threat to us all, especially to our older and vulnerable residents.
“It’s very easy, with the relaxation of restrictions we’ve had over recent months- the call for people to return to work and to support our high streets; our children returning to schools, colleges and soon to Universities – to believe that life is back to normal.
“It is not back to normal. The virus is still here and it is very easy to get infected, especially indoors. I am therefore urging all Devon residents, of all ages, but specifically to our younger residents who perhaps do not feel the risk felt by older and more vulnerable residents, to follow the public health advice at all times.
“We are continuing to monitor the data very closely so that we can react immediately to situations as they arise. But we also need you, the Devon public, to carry on doing your bit to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading in our county this autumn.”
However, despite the rise in cases across the region from previous figures, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has continued to remain relatively low.
In the South West, the figure has risen from 10 as of last week to 12 today, but has dropped from 13 as of yesterday, with only two patients an ICU.
The first death in a hospital in Devon and Cornwall since June 29 was announced today, occurring in the Royal Cornwall Hospital on September 8.
But figures that had been released yesterday, although only covering the period up until September 3, showed there was only one person in Cornwall and no-one in Devon in hospital following a positive COVID-19 test.
The information which was published on Thursday evening and covers the period up to September 3, breaks down the number of people in hospital into individual trusts, rather than the region-wide figures provided daily by the Government.
Of the 12 people who were in hospital in the South West on September 3, there was one person in Cornwall and no-one in Devon.
Since the figures were provided, there was been a death in the Cornish hospital that was announced today and occurred on September 8 – it is unknown as to whether this death relates to the individual who was in hospital on September 3.
The latest Government figures for hospitalisations for the South West which came out on Wednesday showed that there were still 12 people in hospital in the region.
While the very latest figures are not available, the situation on September 3 showed that there was one person in the Royal Cornwall Hospital, and no patients in the RDE in Exeter, Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Torbay Hospital or North Devon Hospital.
Torbay’s last patient was discharged on August 22, Derriford’s on September 1, Exeter’s on July 26, and North Devon’s on June 18.
The R Rate for the South West is now being estimated as between 0.9 and 1.2, up from 0.8 – 1.1,as of last week but it covers a large geographical area and low case numbers mean the estimates is insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions, and is the joint lowest in the country.
In total, Torridge has had 64 positive cases, West Devon 78, with 123 in the South Hams, 143 in North Devon, 235 in Mid Devon, 238 in Teignbridge, 274 in East Devon, 291 in Exeter, 318 in Torbay, 793 in Plymouth and 1026 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Torridge remains the place in England with the lowest overall positivity rate, and is 3rd in the overall table behind Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides) and the Orkney Islands.
Including Scotland and Wales as well, West Devon is 7th, the South Hams 8th, North Devon 9th, Teignbridge 12th, Cornwall 14th, East Devon 16th, Exeter 25th, Torbay 28th, Mid Devon 48th and Plymouth 56th of the 369 regions.
The COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and sending these specimens to laboratories around the UK to be tested. If the test is positive, this is a referred to as a lab-confirmed case.
Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested.
The data is now shown by the date the specimen was taken from the person being tested and while it gives a useful analysis of the progression of cases over time, it does mean that the latest days’ figures may be incomplete.
Cases received from laboratories by 12:30am are included in the counts published that day. While there may have been new cases of coronavirus confirmed or people having tested positive, those test results either yet to reach PHE for adding to the dataset or were not received in time for the latest daily figures to be published.