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‘We should all remain extra vigilant when travelling at home or abroad’ says Director of Public Health

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The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Devon in the last seven days has risen to 32. However, compared to the rest of the country, ‘rates still remain low’, says Devon’s Director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson.

The increase in numbers is largely due to Devon residents returning home from trips abroad, having contracted coronavirus infection while away on holiday.

They were picked up by the NHS Test and Trace programme on their return to the country, and all appropriate containment procedures, including self-isolation, have been followed.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon“These cases show how vital it is that we all remain extra vigilant when travelling at home or abroad,” says Dr Pearson.

“The NHS Test and Trace system has done its job here very well, and we’re confident that the risk of onward infection in the community is very low as a result of residents doing the right thing and taking the right actions quickly.

“What it does show is that people need to be extra careful when travelling abroad and must continue to respect social distancing, wash their hands regularly, avoid crowded areas and wear face coverings as directed.

“If people do fall ill with symptoms of COVID-19 while away they need to avoid contact with others as much as possible, be careful when travelling back from the airport, self-isolate immediately when back home and phone 111 for advice on testing.

“Fortunately, in this case, our international travellers have acted sensibly and followed this guidance.

“People should be aware of the risks associated with any travelling abroad and be careful on their return, and to be tested quickly if they feel ill.”

Other recently-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Devon are not connected. In each case the necessary containment procedures have been quickly followed.

“We must remember, while not for one moment being complacent, that the rate of confirmed cases in Devon remains very low,” says Dr Pearson. “That’s how we want it to stay. We will see numbers rise and fall, but we must all focus on what we can do to keep those numbers low. That means:

• wear a face covering when in enclosed spaces (to protect others)
• keep a safe distance – 2 metres where possible
• wash your hands with soap and water often and use hand sanitiser if handwashing is not possible
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve if you cough or sneeze
• do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.”