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Director of Public Health Devon urges residents to look out for each other

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This week England reached the fourth step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, with the majority of COVID-19 restrictions ending and replaced with guidance emphasising personal judgement and responsibility.

The Prime Minister said that it is the right time to open up because if it isn’t done now then we face a risk of even tougher conditions in the colder months when the virus has a natural advantage and the firebreak of the school holiday is lost. But he also said that the pandemic isn’t over, and that people should be cautious and are expected to protect themselves and others through informed choice.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon is urging residents to keep doing their bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus in Devon and to continue looking out for each other, particularly the most vulnerable, as we have done throughout the pandemic. He said:

Steve Brown“With most legal COVID-19 restrictions lifting this week, I want to say a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone in Devon for all they have done to so far to keep each other safe.

“I want us to continue to be careful because positive cases in Devon are still rising, in fact at the moment we’ve got the highest rate of COVID-19 we’ve seen during the whole pandemic.

“While most people who catch COVID aren’t becoming seriously ill, due to the vaccination programme, there are some who do need medical care and unfortunately we are seeing hospital admission rise. There are plenty of people feeling the disruption of having to self-isolate with COVID-19 or because they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case.

“Over 38,000 people in Devon were identified as being Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and asked to shield from coronavirus. Many spent several months with little if any interaction outside of their households.

“And now as restrictions lift, these vulnerable people are once again being advised by the government about extra steps they may wish to take to protect themselves, such as making sure they have both does of a COVID-19 vaccine, meeting friends and family outside if possible and visiting shops and pharmacies at quieter times of day.

“But I strongly feel that it is up to all of us to carry on doing everything we can to continue keeping each other safe.

“Many people, particularly if they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, have dreaded the day legal restrictions lift for fear of catching coronavirus. I understand that you’re in a difficult position, and you may be feeling worried about the current situation.

“Although the legal restrictions have lifted, our responsibility to members of our family, friends and society has not changed. I urge everyone in Devon to choose to do the right thing and keep doing your bit to reduce the spread of coronavirus by respecting the personal space of those around you, wearing a face covering in crowded areas, getting tested regularly, having both doses of the vaccine and washing your hands properly.

“We have been good at looking out for each other and helping those in need so we need to respect those of us who will still be feeling anxious and behave in ways that protect them and ourselves from the risk of coronavirus.”

The latest guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 is available on the government’s website.

If you’re feeling anxious about COVID-19 restrictions lifting, the NHS Every Mind Matters website has lots of useful information and advice about how to cope.

For the latest information about COVID-19 in Devon, please visit the Devon County Council website.