Just over three months ago coronavirus hit Devon.
On March 2, Churston Ferrers Grammar School in Brixham closed following a potential case. Other schools quickly followed, including Galmpton Primary, Collaton St Mary Primary, Berry Pomeroy Primary and Brixham Primary schools.
Public Health England later confirmed two positive cases from residents from South Devon. It began the series of events that have dominated the next months. Exeter-based airline Flybe said they were reviewing the situation but not feeling the need to cut flights. Three days later, the company collapsed.
Since then, 829 confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in the Devon County Council area, with a further 369 in Plymouth and 224 in Torbay, although the true figure is believed to be considerably higher due to the lack of testing during the initial phases of the outbreak and the high proportion of asymptomatic cases. The current confirmed death toll whereby covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate is 348.
The peak of fatalities in Devon occurred in the week ending April 17, a week that saw 66 deaths recorded with covid on the death certificate.
The number of acute hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients across Devon peaked at 210 in mid-April, with a maximum of 39 people in Critical Care (HDU/ITU) beds.
Devon is now one of the 11 national ‘Beacon Councils’ who have received a share of an extra £300m to help establish local outbreak plans, including infection control and local testing and tracing arrangements. It is designed to spot and then mobilise local resources to contain new clusters of infection.
The county has been one of the least hit areas by coronavirus, with the number of incidents of the disease ranking it 146th out of 150 ‘upper tier’ authorities, and the county is one of five that have had significantly fewer deaths in care homes than expected.
No health and care workers have died as a result of coronavirus and just two care homes area currently dealing with, outbreak. While it may have escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, Devon is facing a “perfect storm” for mental health problems, a public health director has warned.