The increase in the R rate of coronavirus infection in the south west ‘does not accurately reflect Devon’s local data on the ground,’ according to the director of public health for Public Health Devon.
Dr Virginia Pearson said the South West is an extremely large area, and Devon’s figures have remained low.
The R rate is the average number of people that one person with the virus will infect.
At the end of last week, it was reported that the R rate for the South West and North West had risen to one, which is higher than other areas of the country.
But Dr Pearson said: “The R value is an important regional barometer based on modelling data, but while it provides an estimate of ongoing transmission, it alone cannot determine the rate of growth of coronavirus and does not accurately reflect Devon’s local data on the ground.
“As such it should be treated with a little caution.
“The South West R value spans from Isles of Scilly to Bristol, and while there have been hotspots in other parts of the region that increase the R value, Devon’s figures have remained low.
“We have the fifth lowest number of recorded cases when comparing Devon to all 150 upper tier local authorities and the consistency of the numbers suggests that levels have plateaued recently.
“That’s in part due to our residents adhering to lockdown, and heeding national guidance around staying home and social distancing. We have done well in that regard, and need to keep that up.
“We continue to work closely with our Public Health and NHS colleagues to ensure the safety of our Devon residents.”
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England said:
“Our estimates show that the regional R numbers have increased, although they remain below 1 for most of England – this is to be expected as we gradually move out of lockdown.
“It is vital that everyone continues with social distancing, practising good hand hygiene and must remain at home and order a test if they have symptoms.”