Health and Wellbeing

Chair of the Team Devon Board urges people not to be complacent

COVID-19 cell

Posted on: 8 October 2020

Devon County Council leader John Hart, who chairs the Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said as the Board met today (Thursday 8 October):

Photo of Councillor John Hart

Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council

“Today we have been, rightly, focusing on the situation in Exeter and I want to speak about that.

“But firstly I want to emphasise that across the rest of Devon we have been keeping levels of coronavirus low.

“Cases are steady and that is largely as a result of the commonsense of the people of this county. And I want to commend them for that.

“But we cannot be complacent and it behoves all of us to make a renewed effort to follow the national guidance.

“So I would urge you all, please:

• keep a safe distance from others, two metres is preferable

• wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water and use hand sanitiser where it is provided

• wear a face covering when you’re indoors in public spaces and on public transport

“And if you have symptoms – a high temperature, new and continuous cough, or a change in your sense of smell or taste – you must self-isolate straight away. Do that, then get a test.

“Clearly, though, Exeter University is our biggest worry. Everything there is being kept under intense scrutiny and we’re holding daily incident management meetings.

“But I would say to the residents of Exeter, particularly in places like St James, Newtown, St David’s and Pennsylvania, that so far our statistics do not show any evidence of the cases amongst students being spread into the wider community.

“We have seen spikes in universities across the country and they were not unexpected.

“So I would commend the preparatory work that the university did before the students arrived because their planning enabled us to have early warning of the issue and to respond swiftly.

“There are an extensive range of measures in place to reduce transmission and the cooperation with our partners in Public Health England, the police and the city council has been excellent.

“I’d also like to reiterate what’s been said about local lockdowns. As the situation currently stands, most of the cases in Exeter are in the student population and not in the wider community and so – at the moment – Exeter is not in line for a broad lockdown across the city.

“So how do we ensure we don’t get to that point? We are tracking positive cases constantly so we can respond quickly.

“The university has a comprehensive set of measures in place to reduce transmission among both students and staff.

“For example, students are banned from mixing with other households indoors.

“Social events and sporting fixtures involving students have been postponed.

“And there’s a regime of enhanced cleaning on campus, in student halls and common areas.

“Some placements for students in health and care have been suspended and the university has upped its communications with parents and the community.

“So none of us can be complacent but I can assure you there is a great deal of effort going into containing this outbreak and together we will beat it.”

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