How Devon's current Covid cases compare to November 2020 lockdown

covid 19

Covid 19 rates in East Devon - Credit: LDRS

12 months ago, Devon, along with the rest of the UK, was under a month-long lockdown to protect the NHS from a rise in Covid infections. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined plans for the second lockdown in a speech on October 31 with the lockdown coming in to force on November 5, saying: "We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature."

The Government has said it has no plans for another lockdown but is monitoring the situation. The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Devon is now far greater than last autumn; Torbay for example has the highest reproduction rate in the UK and there is no doubt Covid is on the rise in all sectors of Devon. 

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Devon has fared relatively well compared to other parts of the UK. At the worst time around Christmas 2020, Devon was placed in tier 2 with mild restrictions, such as some industries closing and mask-wearing in public spaces. 

But with Devon currently experiencing one of the highest transmission rates in the UK this week, how does the situation compare to this time last year? 

What is the current infection rate in the area?
The region within the Devon County Council authority is currently experiencing a rise in infection rates, up 15 per cent from last week in the Devon County Council area. The county is currently experiencing a spike in infections with 497.7 cases per 100,000 people each week in Devon. This time last November Devon had only 125.6 weekly cases per 100,000 people.
How many people are in Devon's hospitals with Covid?

This week (from November 21) there are 49 Covid patients in beds at the Royal Devon and Exeter (RD&E) Hospital with six coronavirus admissions, which is very low compared to November 2020, when there were 125 Covid patients in beds and 16 Covid admissions. With most of Devon now having two or in some cases three doses of the vaccine, this shows that although people are catching it, they are avoiding getting seriously ill and being hospitalised.

How many people have had the vaccine in East Devon?
The NHS first launched its vaccination programme for the elderly and most vulnerable in Devon in December last year. Since then, in East Devon, 123,211 people have had their first dose of the vaccine and 115,018 people have also received their second. 
Now that most people in the county have had their first and second Covid vaccinations, attention turns toward the third booster jab, which at the moment has a good uptake among those eligible for it. 
Below are the figures for first and second vaccine doses.
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What are the latest developments? 
Though there is no sign of the UK going back into lockdown, there is the worry of a new 'South African variant' of coronavirus which could be more deadly. It's thought to have come from someone who was unable to beat the virus, making it resistant to antibodies and able to attack the body.
It is thought to have 50 mutations overall, and more than 30 on the spike protein, which is the target of most vaccines and the key the virus uses to unlock the doorway into the body's cells. 
The UK Government was quick to put countries including South Africa, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Lesotho on the red travel list last night (Thursday, November 25) to contain the spread. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC: "Ministers have acted fast, it's rather like the mink variant from Denmark last year, where we acted very quickly, within hours and we're then able, once we've checked it out, to release things somewhat.
"I hope that's what this is, a pause rather than going backwards, but we can't take risks when we see a variant which could well defeat the vaccine, or at least that's the concern and we need just a bit of time to check that out."
So the advice in Devon is: keep it up, remember 'hands, face space', and if you're eligible for the third jab, get it as soon as possible.