The government this afternoon has designated Devon, Cornwall, Plymouth, Torbay and the Isles of Scilly, an ‘enhanced response area’, in response to high case rates of coronavirus. It means additional support will be available from the government, to those areas.
Public Health Devon has welcomed the escalation.
Its Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, said:
“We welcome today’s announcement that Devon and the South West is designated as an enhanced response area.
“This means that the government has prioritised the ‘far’ South West for additional support to reduce case rates. It doesn’t mean another local lockdown, but it does mean that authorities across the south west have more flexibility to introduce additional public health measures if considered necessary, to those in other parts of the country.
“Case rates here in Devon are very high, especially in our late teens and younger adults, which is to be expected since the removal of restrictions, the opening up of opportunities to socialise, and our popularity as a major visitor destination.
“The availability of testing in the county is good, and the vaccination take up across all of the priority groups has been very high.
“However, the impact of coronavirus is being felt hard across the entire health and social care system, with those services struggling to cope with demand and workforce pressures.
“We are working across boundaries with our neighbouring authorities, Public Health England and NHS Devon partners, to monitor data, respond to outbreaks, and provide public health guidance to our residents.
“We will now continue to work with them and the government to see what else can be done to reduce Devon’s case rate.
“In the meantime, we ask all Devon residents and visitors to the county to take extra caution.”
Public Health Devon is urging people to:
• Limit your social contacts to stop the virus spreading
• meet others outside, because that’s safer than meeting inside
• continue to wear face coverings when indoors in public places
• wash your hands properly and regularly
• have the jab if you are an adult and haven’t yet had it. Please have both doses as soon as you can. If you’re aged 16 to 18, please take up the vaccination when offered to you
• self-isolate if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace
• self-isolate and arranging a PCR test if you show any symptoms of having the virus – the high temperature, new and continuous cough, or change of your usual sense of taste or smell
And to visitors, they have published this guidance:
Before you leave:
• If you show any symptoms of having coronavirus, please self-isolate at home and arrange a PCR test. If that is positive, please postpone your visit
• If you show no symptoms of having coronavirus, please use a lateral flow test before you leave to determine whether you are likely to be carrying the virus. If that is positive, please self-isolate and arrange a PCR test. Please do not travel if your PCR test is positive
• Please follow the latest rules regarding self-isolating, and please don’t travel to Devon is you are required to be self-isolating – we’d love to see you, just later.
• If you are eligible for a vaccination and haven’t yet had one, please take it up when offered
There are steps we can all take to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so while you’re visiting:
• Please follow the public health guidance, including keeping a distance from others where possible; wearing a face covering when indoors in crowded public places; and washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitiser
• Please limit your social contacts to stop the virus spreading, and if you are meeting others, try to do so outside because it’s safer than meeting inside
• If you develop symptoms while you’re away, please self-isolate and arrange a PCR test, and remain self-isolating until you get the result. If that’s positive, it is important to travel safely to a place where you can self-isolate
• If you’re here for a while and you show no symptoms of having coronavirus, please routinely use a lateral flow tests to determine whether you are likely to be carrying the virus. There are many places to access tests on our website, and you can take the tests with you on your visit
When you get home:
• If you develop symptoms on your return, please self-isolate and arrange a PCR test. If that’s positive, remain self-isolating for the full duration.
Devon, like many popular UK visitor destinations, is seeing case rates far higher than national averages. Positive cases in the county are predominantly in the 15 to 19 year old, mostly as yet unvaccinated population. Cases are not in any particular setting or location, and it’s felt by public health experts that socialisation is the main driver for the increase.