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Case numbers expected to rise due to easing of restrictions

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We were asked this week how Devon has been able to keep case numbers down, while cases elsewhere in the country are rising. Here’s the explanation.

Case numbers in Devon are best described as stable at the moment. A little up and down, but currently stable. However, we do expect case numbers to rise due to easing of restrictions.

Nationally, the weekly increase is around 32 per cent. That means case numbers have risen on average by nearly a third overall in England in the last week.

By region, the North West and South East have risen most, by more than 50 per cent in the last week. London and the West Midlands have risen between 25 to 30 per cent; East Midlands and East of England, Yorkshire and Humber around 10 per cent rise; North East has risen about 5 per cent; and positive case numbers in the South West have not risen.

Look closer at those figures, and one of the variables is the presence of the new variant – now called the Delta variant (but was described as the ‘Indian’ variant, because that’s where it was first reported) – and those areas where cases are highest are those where the latest strain of the virus is most present.

The variant isn’t the only factor though. Throughout the pandemic, positive cases overall in Devon have consistently fallen below national averages. That’s partly due to people on the whole following the public health guidance. It’s also a reflection in the way that public health authorities have acted quickly when there are outbreaks, and how they’ve worked within those settings to prevent further spread.

Testing and tracing of contacts in Devon has also been effective in identifying positive cases and isolating for a short period those with the virus.

Devon’s rollout with the vaccine is also going very well, with three-quarters of adults in Devon now had at least their first dose. That’s having a positive impact on the numbers of people becoming seriously ill or needing hospitalisation due to coronavirus.

There is no magic bullet to beat coronavirus. It takes hard work by all of us, and a determination to follow the current guidance and not allow ourselves to let our guard down. While case numbers are heading in the right direction, it’s easy for us to think that we have this beaten. But we mustn’t. Especially because of these variants that are in the UK that spread more easily between people.

And that’s the context. While we are enjoying the easing of restrictions, and with it more movement of people, we need to keep a watchful eye on cases and trends elsewhere in the country, and know that it is only by remaining vigilant that we will prevent the virus spreading.

Please continue to follow the rules – especially around washing our hands, wearing face coverings when indoors in public spaces, and keeping our social distance.

Please continue to take up the regular testing, that identifies whether a person is carrying the virus unknowingly, and to self-isolate if you test positive.

And please take up the vaccine when you are called to do so.