New coronavirus variant could be behind rise in cases in Cornwall care homes

Care homes are battling to protect residents Credit: Care homes are battling to protect residents

The new variant of coronavirus could be behind a rise in cases in care homes in Cornwall according to the county's director of public health.

Cornwall Care’s Woodland in St Austell, Trengrouse in Helston and Mountford in Truro are among several care homes across the county to have had outbreaks in the past week.

The council is now working with the NHS and care homes to offer advice and support.

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health in Cornwall, said: “We have seen further outbreaks in care homes and we have had a number through the whole pandemic.

“We have worked really hard to support staff and given advice. They have also worked really hard to have measures in place to prevent spread of the virus.

“There is a rapid spread in care homes especially with the new variant which we think has a part to play in that. It is more transmittable than usual strains. The care homes are battling against that.

“We are really concerned to have these outbreaks and there is a multi-agency response with the council, NHS and GPs in place to support staff where there are outbreaks to make sure residents are cared for.

“While we have much larger numbers of cases in the community the more likely they can get into care homes. That is why it is so important that we all do our bit so we can protect care homes as much as we can.”

The new variant has caused cases in care homes to surge.

She adds that Cornwall is in a “serious position” with Covid-19.

“There are more patients in our hospital with the virus then we ever had before and we are sadly seeing an increase in deaths in Cornwall.”

The director of public health said that last week Cornwall’s rate of Covid-19 cases was 325 per 100,000 population – this week it had increase to 357 per 100,000.

“This is still lower than the England rate of 583 but in some cases we have seen rates higher than that.”

She added that while there had been clusters in towns and villages there had also been evidence that the virus was “taking hold in smaller places”.

We need to behave as though we may be infected and could be contagious. The numbers may start to reduce as the impact of the lockdown as seen but stay at home as much as possible and only travel when it is essential to do so.

Rachel Wigglesworth, Cornwall's Director of Public Health

Case numbers have been rising among 20 to 35-year-olds but it was explained that this trend was not unique to Cornwall.