Covid-19: Risk of second spike in Devon played down, but social distancing still ‘critical’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 June 2020

Devon County Council leader Dr Phil Norrey said the county had done well but might have seen even fewer deaths if 'we knew what we know now'. Picture: DCC

Devon County Council leader Dr Phil Norrey said the county had done well but might have seen even fewer deaths if 'we knew what we know now'. Picture: DCC

Archant

The risk of a second Covid-19 spike in Devon, following the easing of lockdown, has been played down by the county council’s chief executive.

But Dr Phil Norrey stressed that it is vital to keep following the social distancing guidelines.

He told councillors the number of cases in Devon is on a downward trend and that trend had not changed since the initial relaxation measures were announced on May 11.

He said: “There has been an influx of people visiting the coasts, and we haven’t seen any increase in the county, and the numbers are very low.”

Speaking at the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 24, Dr Norrey also said there were plans in place to tackle a second spike.

He said while the national track and trace system was not perfect, huge steps forward were being taken with it – and there are plans in place to tackle any localised outbreaks.

He said: “We will have greater control over mobile testing units than we have now, and maybe other ways of testing, like swab squads to get more rapid testing where we sense there is an issue. But the good thing is that there is such low incidence in Devon we have time to bed the arrangements in.

“We are working closely with the tourism sector and keeping an eye on what happens in coastal areas, and spotting it very early if we see an impact is the critical thing, and we have a range of actions that we can take to stop outbreaks occurring.

“The evidence so far from a fairly significant number of visitors though is that we didn’t see any impact at all on the local population. The critical thing is to continue to follow the distancing measures, but if there is a second spike, and let’s hope there won’t be, we have time to learn, ensure there is enough PPE and free up hospital capacity to react.”

He also told the committee that the plans for tackling a local outbreak, now being drawn up, will take the needs of businesses into account, ‘to allow us to walk the tightrope of allowing economic activity but keeping the incidence down’.


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