County public health director urges NYE caution

By Daniel Clark   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Wednesday 30th December 2020 10:17 am
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Devon's director of public health Steve Brown

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Devon’s director of public health has urged South Hams residents ‘not to take the risk’ by participating in any New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Current restrictions in Devon allow no-one to meet indoors with people outside their household or support bubble.

But at present, up to six people can meet outdoors, which includes children of any age.

However, with positive cases continuing to rise across the county, Steve Brown, director of Public Health Devon, has asked people to “not take the risk”.

He said: “Regardless of what tier we are in, please do everything we can to minimise social contact with people outside our household or immediate support bubble this New Year’s Eve.

“Contact is how the virus spreads. The latest variant is extremely good at passing between people, and although there is no evidence that it is any worse for you than the first variant, the fact that it spreads so much more efficiently, the likelihood of it reaching people who are most vulnerable to it are so much greater.

“Whatever your plans are for New Year’s Eve, please if you can, stay home, stay safe and keep your families and friends safe.”

The message comes as the data has shown case numbers rising in Devon, although by specimen data, there has been a slight fall in the seven-day average with specimens from December 23 and 24 lower at present than from December 16 and 17 – although December 26 is higher than December 19.

Cases have been slightly trending down in East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon and Torridge, but only the South Hams has a current infection rate of below 100 per 100,000.

Devon’s rate as a whole is 143.7 per 100,000, which is significantly lower than the England average of 402.6 per 100,000.

While cases may rise further as a result of the relaxation of restrictions on Christmas Day, any impact that has won’t be seen until early in 2021 given the lag between infections, symptoms, testing and results.

But Mr Brown added: “It is too soon to see what impact the relaxation of restrictions on Christmas Day will have on our case numbers, but I expect we will see a rise as a consequence. That’s why I am asking, regardless of our tier restrictions, please let’s not give the virus the opportunities it needs to spread.”

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