Health and Wellbeing

Devon ‘prepared’ if there’s a local outbreak

Photo of County Hall

Posted on: 9 July 2020

Devon is ‘in a good position’ if a local outbreak occurs, following sustained low numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and steady flow of quality data, says Devon’s Director of Public Health.

Dr Virginia Pearson was answering questions at Devon County Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (July 8) on the Local Outbreak Management Plan.

The plan is a blueprint which details how any future outbreaks of the virus in Devon would be managed and how its transmission would be contained.

It involves local organisations including the NHS, local authorities, emergency services, schools, care providers and businesses, all working closely together in partnership.

And it highlights additional support needed in the event of an outbreak for people who are particularly vulnerable – such as those of vulnerable ethnic groups or those with chronic health conditions and the elderly.

Devon is one of 11 Beacon councils selected to help and advice other public authorities nationally.

Members of the Council’s Cabinet heard how the management of any response to an outbreak would be split into two parts, operational and oversight.

Dr Pearson also chairs the COVID-19 Health Protection Board, a committee of specialists who can coordinate a swift response to an outbreak of the virus.

And Devon County Council’s Leader, Cllr John Hart is chair of Team Devon, the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, which will monitor how the plan is implemented.

Dr Pearson told the cabinet that the COVID-19 Health Protection Board has already begun meeting:

Dr Virginia Pearson

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon

“The Local Outbreak Management Plan is a dynamic document and it is subject to change as we learn.

“We are working with partners on how we put in place these operating procedures in the event of any outbreaks, and how we test these procedures so that we are practised in how we would work should we get any outbreaks.

“Currently levels of Covid-19 within the county are very low. We have the second lowest cases in the National League table per 100,000 population…so actually we’re in a very positive position.”

She added: “We’ve been very fortunate in the Southwest. Because we’ve had the level of data that we needed for many weeks now…that’s helped us to constantly track what’s going on.

“Understanding the data and monitoring it is critical to keeping on top of what’s happening locally. It helps us with prevention and helps us with early intervention should we need it.”

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “Local government asked for the

Councillor John Hart sitting in his office

Councillor John Hart, Leader of the Council

responsibility of managing any local outbreak should it occur, on the grounds that we can do the job better than London. It’s now up to us to make it work and this we can do with our Team Devon partnership working together for our residents.”

Councillor Carol Whitton said: “Huge thanks to Virginia and her team for putting this

Councillor Carol Whittton smiling

Councillor Carol Whitton

document together. The amount of work that has gone into this cannot be underestimated. It is a very thorough plan.”

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