Rise in Covid infections in two parts of Cornwall is ‘worrying’

Cornwall’s public health consultant has warned people to adhere to Covid guidance as the way the virus is being transmitted in the Duchy has changed.

As Cornwall sees a “worrying rise in infections”, Dr Ruth Goldstein has stressed that transmission has moved from workplace clusters to spreading freely throughout the community.

Speaking at a weekly Covid press briefing, Cornwall Council leader Julian German reiterated that it was vital that Cornish residents heeded public health guidance.

He said: “As we enter the final two weeks of this lockdown period we are seeing a worrying rise in infections, particularly in the east and north of Cornwall.

“Whereas previously these infection spikes were confined to work settings where large groups of people regularly mix, we are now seeing a rise in community infection. The virus doesn’t discriminate, it will infect a loved one as readily as a perfect stranger, and it can easily spread whether you’re at home or out in public.

“I cannot stress enough how vital it is that we all continue to follow the public health guidance around social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing our hands regularly.”

Dr Ruth Goldstein, Cornwall Council’s public health consultant

Dr Goldstein agreed.

“People are asking what Cornwall will look like on December 2 and what tier we will be in. I haven’t got a crystal ball so I can’t really answer that but what I can say is whatever the restrictions are we cannot afford to let our guard down,” she stressed.

“So we can’t just say, ‘oh we’re in Tier 1 or Tier 2 and therefore we can go out and have parties, meets groups of people, mingle and not worry about Covid’. It will still be with us on December 3.

“What we’re seeing is that the transmission changed over the last six to eight weeks. It’s changed from being in big work settings where you get big outbreaks and we can identify that Covid safety practices maybe haven’t been as thorough as they should, to being freely spreading in the community.”

She added: “We track all our cases in Cornwall and we can see spiders’ webs of who people have been socialising with, where they’ve been and how this disease has gone from person to person. It’s not the disease that moves, it’s the people who have it.”

As a number of schools have been forced to temporarily close due to Covid, Councillor Sally Hawken, portfolio holder for children, addressed the latest schools issues.

She said: “We have seen an increase in the number of cases of Covid in our schools, particularly over the last three weeks and particularly in the east, which is a reflection of the increased number of cases in our local communities.

“We’ve seen cases rising in Saltash, Launceston, Liskeard, Torpoint and Bude and all of us have to continue to follow the public health guidance to try and reduce the spread of Covid, not just in these communities but across Cornwall.”

Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for children and families, at Budehaven Community School which has just had to close temporarily due to Covid

Cllr Hawken added: “There have been decisions to close a handful of schools across Cornwall for a brief period to enable deep cleaning, a reassessment of Covid safety plans or where a number of staff self-isolating is an issue and teaching has had to go online.

“I know this has led to conversations about whether schools are safe and should they close. We need to put this into perspective – it’s 0.2% of the total school population in Cornwall that have tested positive for Covid.

“What we do know is that the majority of single cases in schools often relate to the cases of Covid we see in the community; they’re just more visible in the school environment.”

She said that all school leaders are up to date on Covid safety practice through regular communication and the correct children are identified to send home through their contact groups and bubbles to ensure minimal disruption to education.

Cornwall Live