Friday 19 March 2021
Coronavirus case numbers in Devon have been falling, and remain below the national average, but the rate of decline is slowing.
Recently there have been some outbreaks in workplaces and care homes and positive case rates across the county are currently highest in those aged 20 to 39 years old.
In this update:
- Vaccine incredibly successful, but more outbreaks likely
- High attendance in Devon schools
- COVID-19 testing as vital as ever
- Shielding advice for the clinically extremely vulnerable to stop from April
- New film shares experiences from Devon vaccination centres
- What do you think about COVID-status certification?
- Consultation on autumn exam series 2021
Vaccine incredibly successful, but more outbreaks likely, says Director of Public Health Devon
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon responded to questions this week following outbreaks of coronavirus in two East Devon care homes.
Asked how residents and staff in the homes contracted the virus, with some of the most vulnerable becoming very unwell and a small number tragically dying, even after their first dose of the vaccine, Steve Brown said that the vaccination overall has been incredibly successful.
"We've seen the number of people in hospital and the number of people dying reduce significantly," he said.
The latest data shows that the vaccination protects people from hospitalisation by about eighty per cent. And protection from dying from about eighty-five per cent.
"But no vaccine is one hundred per cent effective, so there will still be people who catch coronavirus, and particularly those most vulnerable - the elderly and those who have clinical risk - who will potentially get coronavirus and still become seriously ill," said Mr Brown.
Asked whether outbreaks like these can happen again, he said:
“We are going to continue to get small outbreaks in settings such as care homes, workplaces and schools. But whenever we get an outbreak, the response is quick and swift.
“Agencies, including Public Health Devon, Devon County Council, NHS Devon and Public Health England, come together. We look at how we can put in additional resources, such as additional staff or other appropriate resources, and we step up the cleaning regime, for example.
“Such measures are designed to protect and safeguard those people in that setting, and to try to reduce any onward transmission.
“Even when you’ve been vaccinated, it’s still really important that you continue to adopt public health measures – and for now, stay at home as much as possible. If you do need to go out, make sure that you keep social distancing, wear a face covering when indoors in public spaces, and wash your hands regularly."
You can watch Steve Brown's message in full on our YouTube channel..
High attendance in Devon schools
The return to face-to-face teaching in Devon has been really positive across the whole of the county.
More than 95 per cent of children were back in school in Devon at the end of last week, which reflects a normal year.
Primary schools fully re-opened on Monday 8 March and at the end of the week they recorded a 97 per cent attendance rate.
Some secondary schools staggered their start in order to test all their students for coronavirus but, at the end of the week, 95 per cent of students were in.
And in Devon’s special schools, which opened for all pupils throughout the last lockdown, the attendance rate was 91 per cent last week.
Schools have done a tremendous job in building confidence and welcoming pupils back and we have had some great responses from pupils, parents, headteachers and their staff.
Everyone has done a remarkable job over the past year and we've had positive reports about how well children are continuing to manage all the changes and how good it has been to see them enjoying lessons and meeting their friends again.