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Explainer: How do we know that coronavirus cases are rising in Devon if we’re no longer testing?

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The number of people who have coronavirus in the UK, and Devon, is rising. You may have become aware yourselves of people you know who have the virus or have recently had the virus.

But with less testing happening, how do we know for sure that cases are rising?

One key source is the Office for National Statistics’ Coronavirus Infection Survey.

That’s a survey of around 150,000 people of different ages, across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. It measures how many of them test positive for COVID-19 infection at a given point in time, regardless of whether they report experiencing symptoms.

They do the survey every two weeks, and it gives us an estimated percentage of the population experiencing COVID-19, nationally and locally.

It’s how we know that right now that approximately 1 in every 25 of us are very likely to have coronavirus, even if we’re not presenting symptoms.

Another important indicator is the number of people we’re seeing in hospital with coronavirus, and that’s rising too.

Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon, said:

“It’s this data that we need to pay attention to. The more we know about prevalence of coronavirus in our local communities, the more we need to adapt our behaviour to reduce risk to ourselves and others.  And that’s especially important for people who are more vulnerable, and at greatest risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus.”

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon

We’ve refreshed our ‘Coronavirus dashboard’ on our website. We take the ONS data and present it in easy to follow way for people to know what’s happening locally and how we compare nationally.