The Chairman of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, Cllr John Hart, has thanked Devon residents for responding positively to the national lockdown restrictions, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
The latest figures from Devon County Council show high levels of compliance with the restrictions, with movement on the roads down 30 to 40 per cent, and a fall in the numbers of people using public transport.
Cllr Hart said:
“The figures suggest that fewer people are out and about, and making journeys only if and when they’re necessary. That’s what we need to see. I want to thank our residents for the positive way that they have so far responded to this second national lockdown.”
Members of the multi-agency Local Outbreak Engagement Board met this week to discuss the latest data.
The number of positive cases of coronavirus across the county has continued to rise across all age groups, particularly in the working age population, and in all areas. But numbers are still below national averages.
“I would like to repeat the message we gave last week, for people to continue to be careful as this virus is very much around,” Cllr Hart told the meeting. “We see a rising number of cases among workers, spreading in workplace kitchens and staff rooms or colleagues meeting in more social settings.
“It’s all too easy in those moments to let up. We mustn’t. It’s vital that we do not drop our guard.
“Even with the welcome announcement this week of a vaccine, we must not become complacent. While that of course is an excellent breakthrough, we must not relax our efforts. We must continue to follow the national rules around Space, Face and Hands.”
Cllr Hart told members of the Board that the Director of Public Health Devon has written to around 35,000 Devon residents this week identified as being ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ due to their long term health conditions and vulnerability.
Many who have registered a need for assistance are also receiving calls from their District Councils offering help.
“The collective Team Devon partners are moving apace to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are receiving the support they need,” he said.
“We are also making available a new COVID-19 fund, providing small grants to local community groups, charities, Town and Parish Councils and individuals who have set up schemes to support local people who require help at this time.
“This is in addition to the funds we’ve given that are now supporting local families who are struggling financially as a consequence of coronavirus.”
Cllr Hart also confirmed that University of Exeter students now represent just a quarter of the total number of cases within the city, down significantly from previous weeks.
“The university is working hard to ensure that its students are able to return home for Christmas. We’re working closely with them on their plans, and will update the Board shortly.”