A STARK warning has been issued by Cornwall’s health chief over Covid saying the virus is ‘very nearly’ out of control in the county and things are only going to get worse.
Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall, issued this stark warning during a media briefing yesterday afternoon. She said compared to March the county has the highest number of positive cases that it had ever had at any one time.
It had seen more than two thirds of its total case numbers in the last two months alone. Since the start of November, there had been 67 per cent of all cases since the pandemic started and cases in December alone were more than three times higher than in wave one.
“I think the message now is that it is very serious and the virus is very nearly out of control in Cornwall,” she said. “Community transmission is widespread, so the message here is really simple. We need to keep following the rules, stay at home.
“We cannot act as if the virus isn’t here, because it is, and we should act as if we have the virus and do everything we can to protect ourselves and other people.”
She said the new strain is more likely to cause a sharp increase in cases but in recent weeks, looking at the Christmas and New Year period, cases had doubled every single week and that had been alarming.
“I think there might be a bit of a sense that Cornwall has been dragged into this national lockdown for no reason bit of a questioning of what’s really happening here,” she said.
“Cases were low compared to the rest of the country for some time, but now it is quite different as we’ve all said.
“You can see that there’s a new variant of Covid-19 which transmits more easily than other variants and the risk of transmission is now higher than in wave one.
“There’s no suggestion that that variant increases hospitalisation or mortality for the individual but of course if there are more cases there’s more risk of that.”
She said at the end of the lockdown in early December Cornwall was at a rate of 18 cases per 100,000, today it was at 301.7 per 100,000.
“So if you put that in context, that rate of 18 cases per 100,000 in early December, that’s the equivalent of roughly two bus loads of people but if you look at the rates now, that case rate, that’s people with confirmed test results, could fill 26 buses.
“It’s going to go up and within the next month and there’s going to be more than 50 of those buses filled with people with confirmed cases of Covid.
“We are only now seeing the impact of Christmas gatherings and things are clearly going to get worse.”
She said past cases had been attributed to work place clusters for larger outbreaks, but this simply wasn’t the case any more in Cornwall and she’d seen no evidence of it being caused by visitors from out of county.
“I think there’s been this discussion on social media about visitor related cases but they is really very little evidence to suggest that it’s driven by that,” she said.
Councillor Sally Hawken, Portfolio holder for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, echoed Mrs Wrigglesworth’s fears.
“The situation has deteriorated dramatically over the Christmas period,” she said. “Covid-19 is a greater threat to our community than at any stage since the pandemic began.
“We believe that lockdown is the single best way to tackle this unless your job demands it you should absolutely be staying at home.”
“I know people have been saying they’ve not encountered anybody in their personal lives that have had Covid, that situation is rapidly changing and we know families have started this year having lost loved ones.
“We absolutely believe that this lock down is the right situation for us at this time. We don’t believe any risk is worth taking it is absolutely the time now to stay at home and keep numbers down so it a very simple, message.”