Covid: Torridge rates rise sharply to highest in England

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Torridge includes the north Devon town of Bideford

Covid-19 infection rates have risen by 88% in a week in part of south west England, making it the area with the highest case rate in the country.

Torridge, in north Devon, saw infections hit their highest levels in the seven days up to 11 November.

Government statistics said there were 713 cases per 100,000 people, higher than the England figure of 363; up from 378 locally the week before.

The NHS locally urged people to book a vaccination or booster if eligible.

The latest data available was published on Monday 15 November.

Heather Brazier, director of operations at the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT), acknowledged that cases "remain high in northern Devon and Torridge".

She said she was encouraging people to get vaccinated or get a vaccination booster "to help minimise the impact on our services and the local community".

She said: "Like many health and social care organisations, our staffing is impacted by Covid-related illness and isolation, and we are working hard to manage that on an ongoing basis."

She said services were very busy and urged people to call 111 and avoid calling 999 if they did not need urgent care.

She also thanked staff for "their efforts to ensure we continue to deliver safe and compassionate patient care", but also warned that people should not ignore symptoms of Covid-19, "even minor ones, in yourself or in your household".

Selaine Saxby, Conservative MP for North Devon, said: "Whilst we know that rates are high, my understanding is that [North Devon District Hospital] doesn't have many cases in and, therefore, people are having a much milder condition than they were before we had the vaccine.

"So the vaccine programme is sort of our way out of the pandemic."

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