Posted: 20.07.20 at 08:59 by Francesca Evans
Local arrangements to keep a sharp look out for any potential new outbreaks of coronavirus in Devon, and take swift and decisive action to tackle and contain them when necessary, are now up and running.
Devon’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, known as Team Devon, and the local COVID-19 Health Protection Board met for the first time last week.
Chaired by Devon County Council’s leader, Cllr John Hart, the Outbreak Engagement Board’s make-up is expansive, including representatives from across Devon’s local business, tourism, schools and further education, communities and the voluntary sector, the NHS, Healthwatch and Devon and Cornwall Police.
The engagement board works alongside the county’s COVID-19 Health Protection Board, to give political oversight of the delivery of the local Outbreak Management Plan. It’s responsible for communication and engaging with Devon residents and communities.
The COVID-19 Health Protection Board, chaired by the county’s director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson, is able to review the pattern of cases across Devon and the surrounding area, look for any rise in numbers and potential hotspots, and support local action where it is needed, working alongside Public Health England.
Devon’s Local Outbreak Management Plan was launched last month. It describes the measures being taken in the county to halt the spread of coronavirus, and how the very latest data is helping public health experts stay ahead of hotspots or local outbreaks. And it details plans to provide a fast response to any future outbreaks, involving all organisations working in partnership.
Cllr John Hart, chairman of the engagement board, or Team Devon, said after the meeting: “Devon is in a very good place right now. We continue to have one of the lowest number of cases in the county – and we want to keep it that way.
“That is down to our local residents and businesses who have done an excellent job in respecting national advice and guidance so far. It is also thanks to our strong local partnership between local public agencies and communities.
“What we don’t want is another lockdown. We in the South West are popular tourist destinations, and we are doing everything we can to support local holiday and leisure businesses with advice about opening up safely, as well as guidance to potential visitors about preventing spread of coronavirus.
“Through the board we are working together as one Team Devon to ensure we keep positive cases low and that we keep our residents, especially our more vulnerable residents, safe and well."
Dr Virginia Pearson added: “Local arrangements to manage coronavirus effectively are in place and up and running.
“This could be a rapidly changing situation and we will therefore be meeting regularly for the foreseeable future to stay on top of things.
“We have access to information from Public Health England as well as our own local intelligence and will be looking out for anything of concern such as a rise in overall numbers or if we can see clusters of cases or hotspots appearing.
“If it is needed we will take whatever action is necessary to make sure we keep numbers low and prevent the uncontrolled spread of this virus.”