COVID-19 cases in Plymouth around a third of the England average

    Thursday, October 15th, 2020 7:00am

    By Local Democracy Service reporter

    There is no sign of a major outbreak among students

    The rate of new Covid-19 cases in Plymouth has stayed at around a third of the average in England with no sign of a major outbreak among students.

    Director of public health Ruth Harrell reported the seven-day rate in the city at 44 to 45 per 100,000 people, equal to around 120 cases.

    The figure for the same period in the South West region was 59 per 100,000, and across England it was 143.

    Dr Harrell gave the figures in an update to a meeting of the city council’s Cabinet on Tuesday afternoon.

    She said there had been only a small number of cases among students in Plymouth, with no sign so far of the widespread transmission seen in other cities.

    Dr Harrell said the council’s public health team and the universities had worked closely together.

    She said: “I know that students that have been diagnosed and that have had symptoms have been fantastic at making sure they have taken all the necessary steps around getting themselves tested and self-isolating, and making sure that they stay isolated if they have been contacts of those cases.”

    There have been around 50 major outbreaks at universities. In Exeter, the seven-day case rate has been over 300 in recent weeks, believed to be largely due to infections among university students, but it is understood the outbreak has not spread to the wider population.

    Dr Harrell said cases had risen in Plymouth overall but the relatively low level was “fantastic” news, although it had to be treated with caution as there was concern over what might happen in the next few weeks.

    The director said: “Whilst we know a lot of those people seem to be having a relatively mild infection, the disease is getting into our more vulnerable groups, and we are seeing people in hospital, we are seeing people being very, very ill with this virus.”

    Plymouth has consistently seen the rate of cases at around a third or half the national average and has been placed in the Medium risk category for Covid-19, the lowest of the Government’s new framework announced on Monday.

    New figures released on Tuesday showed there was another Covid-related death at Derriford Hospital recorded on Sunday, October 11, the 83rd reported during the pandemic.

    Dr Harrell told councillors a big concern was the virus moving from younger people to the elderly and more vulnerable. 

    Statistics showed that was happening in areas which saw higher rates earlier than Plymouth, with more people in hospital putting pressure on the NHS.

    The number of people in hospital nationally was now close to the figure when the country went into a national lockdown in March. Fewer were on ventilators but there was a concern that could shift in forthcoming weeks.

    Dr Harrell said: “I’m painting a picture of some cautious hope in Plymouth that we do seem to be managing the rate of cases and keeping the levels relatively low.

    “However there are people that are getting very badly affected by this virus and that’s of great concern.

    “We really have to work together to keep those numbers down.”

    Dr Harrell said there had been an increase in testing since a shortage in capacity a few weeks ago.

    She said there had been Covid-19 outbreaks in education and care homes, which were being managed.

    The latest seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 calculated by the Press Association using data from Public Health England, published on Tuesday, showed a figure of almost 900 in Nottingham, more than 600 in Liverpool, and over 400 in several areas of the North.
     

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