Covid: Devon and Cornwall offered extra support against rising cases

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Crowd in St Ives
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The measures come as Cornwall records the highest Covid rate in England

Extra support will be given to Devon and Cornwall to tackle a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The Department of Health said the targeted support would include efforts to maximise vaccine uptake and testing capacity.

The new measures are expected to be in place for the next five weeks, with the impact monitored.

MP Steve Double emphasised it was "not a lockdown" and it was "about extra resources to help the NHS".

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have the highest Covid rate in England with 829 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 22 August.

Seven council areas in Devon are also in the top 10 local authorities with the highest rates.

'Act carefully and responsibly'

The Department of Health said changes would include the temporary use of face coverings in communal areas outside classrooms in secondary schools and colleges, but pupils would still return as planned next week.

"Logistical support" would be introduced to help the roll-out of vaccines and increase testing, health bosses said.

Further measures would include help for local public health campaigns and wastewater sampling.

Public Health England (PHE) South West said it was working with partners and local authority directors of public health to implement the changes.

Prof Mike Wade, from Public Health England South West, said: "With cases of Covid remaining high and the whole of the South West having the highest regional rates, everyone is asked to continue to act carefully and responsibly."

Mr Double, who represents the St Austell and Newquay area, said MPs were briefed on the changes on Friday morning.

"This is not a lockdown, this is not a precursor to a lockdown, it is nothing to do with any additional restrictions.

"This is about extra resources to help the NHS and public health officials."

Enhanced response areas are offered extra government resources to try and lower the number of Covid cases.

One of the methods includes surge testing, which can include door-to-door testing and enhanced contact tracing, as well as the testing of people who do not have Covid symptoms.

Mr Double said: "In other areas where this has happened it's worked... I think we can be quite confident that's what will happen here in Cornwall."

Cornwall Council, Council of the Isles of Scilly, Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council and all district councils in Devon would receive the additional support, the government said.

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