Care home outbreak a reminder to 'stay on our guard'

A face mask is necessary to stop the spread of covid-19, but does pose a pollution problem

A face mask is necessary to stop the spread of covid-19, but does pose a pollution problem - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The cluster of cases linked to a care home outbreak on the edge of Sidmouth has risen to at least 41 in the latest government data.

In the seven-day period between February 27 and March 5, 41 cases in the Sidbury, Offwell and Beer area – and primarily in the over 85s – have been recorded.

The figures are linked to the outbreak at the Holmesley Care Home in Fortescue Road, Sidmouth, where at least 33 positive coronavirus cases in the space of three days have been recorded, and five residents are thought to have been admitted to hospital. One of those has died.

An additional six cases week on week for East Devon will be added to the dataset in tomorrow’s update, and then 11 cases in Friday’s update, which will also detail where and in which age range the cases are.

Infection rates in East Devon have now risen to 55.4/100,000 – up from 33.5/100,000 as of Saturday – and will rise further in upcoming days – but no other part of the district is reporting more than seven cases (Exmouth Littleham – which is down from 23 as of last week) – and no sign yet that the outbreak was spread further afield.

Among the eldest population, infection rates have risen at the same time, going from 187/100,000 on Saturday to 599/100,000 today in the over 90s, and from 118/100,000 to 404/100,000 in the 85-89s, with smaller rises also seen in the 80-84s and 75-79s seen. Infection rates have also risen in the 40-49s in East Devon over the same period.

Residents in the care home had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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A spokesman for Public Health Devon, said: “Public Health England South West and Devon County Council are working together to support staff and residents of Holmesley care home in Sidford following an outbreak of Covid-19 in residents. Sadly, a resident has passed away.

“The home is currently closed to visitors. Residents and staff in the home have received their first dose vaccinations, which will be providing a level of protection for them.

“In addition, the home has a range of measures in place to respond to this sudden rise positive cases, and to prevent further transmission. There is no current evidence of wider community spread.”

Steve Brown, director of Public Health Devon, added: “This level of outbreak is unusual following the roll out of the vaccination programme, but it is a helpful reminder that we must all stay on our guard.

“While the vaccine roll out is going well and proving effective, we need to remember that no vaccination is ever 100 per cent effective.

“We are working with health colleagues to do everything we can to minimise the spread of the virus in Devon.

“It is important that we do all we can to protect the elderly and vulnerable in care homes, which is why we have issued extensive advice and guidelines to support them in managing suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19.”

Despite the outbreak, East Devon still has a below average infection rate for England, and Devon at upper tier level still has one of the lowest infection rates in England, with only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, East Sussex and Lewisham lower.

At a lower tier level, the South Hams still has the lowest infection rate in England, with Torridge fourth, West Devon seventh, and North Devon eighth.

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