A major incident has been declared in Devon and Cornwall in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Devon and Cornwall Local Resilience Forum (LRF), which is made up of emergency services, councils, NHS services, and many other bodies, has been made to ensure the forum is working ‘as effectively as possible at a time of critical need’.

Devon and Cornwall LRF chairman, TACC Glen Mayhew, emphasised the measure was one of support, rather than the region being unable to cope.

He said: “We are facing a critical public health situation nationwide and it is vital for blue light responders and partner organisations across our communities to work together and deal with the challenges which lie ahead over the coming days and weeks.

“Declaring this a major incident means we can put in place well-rehearsed structures and mechanisms for multi-agency working. Resilience plans already exist to help us protect and enable us to support our communities in the best way possible – keeping them informed and able to function.

“This has not been caused by a rise in cases of Covid-19 in our region or because demand has meant agencies are unable to cope – it is a supportive measure to give strength to all agencies and partners and ensure we can assist each other at a time when we are all likely to see an effect on staffing and our respective agency’s resilience.”

Mr Mayhew said the public should continue to follow guidance from Public Health England and the Government around measures to reduce the risks associated with coronavirus.

He added: “Whether it be police officers, those working in social care or some of the many hundreds of volunteers in our communities, we need to do our absolute utmost to protect and help the elderly and most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We know there are many strong and resilient communities across the peninsula and Isles of Scilly.

“It is now, at this time of most need, that we must come together as a partnership and support our communities as one.”