Statement by Devon county councillors calling for a regional public health approach to containing the epidemic in the South West
The RD&E – the death rate from Covid-19 is barely 10% of the rate in the worst affected trusts. We need extensive testing, tracing and quarantining of cases and contacts to control the virus
Statement by County Councillors Hilary Ackland (Exeter), Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton) and Claire Wright (Otter Valley):
The South West is experiencing the epidemic in a different way from other regions. We have the lowest levels of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 in the country. South West councils, MPs and the police have had some success in preventing second-home owners and tourists further spreading the virus.
We therefore support the call by Dr Bharat Pankhania, Exeter University’s infectious disease and public health expert, to take advantage of the lockdown to introduce a regional approach to the epidemic in the South West, with intensive testing, tracing and quarantining to eliminate the virus.
We call on Directors of Public Health in the region to devote all available resources to this approach, and on Devon MPs to press the Government to give the necessary support for this.
While we do not believe the lockdown can be lifted imminently, effective control of the epidemic in the South West would be an important step forward towards a national solution and would enable local leaders to make the case for a regional approach to lifting the lockdown in due course.
Martin Shaw adds:
As of two days ago, 21 people had died of Covid in the RD&E trust, compared to almost 200 in many trusts in other regions. This shows that the epidemic is still very uneven – a patchwork of variable local epidemics, as Dr Pankhania has argued in the BMJ. We should press for an effective SW strategy.