Coronavirus: Confirmed cases are not related to tourists or visitors, according to public health lead

Coronavirus swabs. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Coronavirus swabs. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

None of the low levels of coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon and Torbay are believed to be linked to visitors to the area, according to Devon’s Director of Public Health.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Team Devon Local Engagement Board meeting, Dr Virginia Pearson told the assembled guests the number of cases remained very low and scattered across the county.

She said they were ‘all over the data’ to check for any linked cases and that at present there were no areas of concern or setting that escalation of measures was required for.

And she said that as far as they can establish, none of the new cases confirmed in the last couple of weeks are related to tourists or visitors coming into the area.

Data presented to the committee showed that in the week ending July 26, there were 12 new cases across the rest of Devon, with three in East Devon, five in Exeter, two in Mid Devon, two in North Devon, and one in the South Hams, with no cases in Teignbridge, Torridge or West Devon.

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Dr Pearson added there was nowhere in the Devon County Council in the latest dataset from Public Health England that had three or more cases in an MSOA area, and that for every 1,000 people in Devon who are tested for coronavirus, only three of them are testing positive.

She added: “These people who have symptoms, have been unwell, or had contact with those who have tested positive, and are not even the wider community. We have a very low rate of cases, very low positivity rates, and they are scattered cases, but if this changes, we will report it and let you know.”

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Cllr John Hart, leader of the council, added: “This remains a good news message. Devon is safe and will remain safe as long as we look after and make it safe. Be careful and do what you are asked to do, and we will keep it under control.”

He thanked for the people of Devon for abiding by the measures currently in place and added that people needed to continue to socially distance, wash their hands, wear masks were required, and be careful when in gatherings, as doing those actions is keeping Devon safe.

The meeting heard that the relaxation of lockdown measures on July 4 and the subsequent increase in visitor numbers to Devon had not had any real impact on the number of cases being confirmed, with Dr Pearson adding: “It is vital that we continue to work together to encourage compliance and focus on prevention as we are dealing with something that will be here for a while.”

And Dr Pearson also issued a warning to parents and guardians of babies under 12 months to not cover their mouths with facemasks as it could cause breathing difficulties.

While there have been no reports of ‘baby masks’ being sold in Devon, Torbay or Somerset, parents and guardians are urged not to buy them as they could harm their baby’s health.

She added: “I would strongly advise parent/carers against using any sort of covering over a baby’s mouth. This is not based on any scientific advice, and could be dangerous in the event of a baby vomiting or posseting.”

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