As the number of cases of Covid-19 in the UK creep up again as preventive measures gradually ease, nerves have started to jangle. It’s time therefore for an update on the situation in Cornwall. (For the first blog on this in June see here.) The most recent release of data on the number of detected cases has shown an ominous jump in the number in Cornwall from nine in the week ending August 2nd to 16 in that ending on August 9th.
However, let’s put that in context. The rate of Covid-19 cases in Cornwall is still relatively low, although now higher than many local authorities in southern England, including Devon and Dorset. The rate of new cases actually seems to be fluctuating, some days up, some down, as the chart below shows, with a very slight upwards trend since July.
Unfortunately, the data don’t give a full picture of where the recent rise in cases is occurring. At the lowest level (census areas called middle super output areas or MSOAs) all we know is that no MSOA in Cornwall has recently seen more than two cases in any one week. This was not the case back in April and May when incidents of three or more cases in MSOAs in Cornwall were not unknown, as the following map indicates.
Furthermore, the good news is that the number of deaths in Cornwall from Covid-19 has not increased significantly since June. This is despite the fact that the UK has the highest number of deaths per capita anywhere in the world, a fact which the media seem strangely reluctant to dwell on. Even after this week’s revision of death data and the loss of almost 5,000 Covid-related deaths, the number of deaths in the UK stands at 61 per million people, compared with rates of 42 to 49 per million in those countries usually cited as suffering the most – the USA, Brazil and Mexico. Moreover, deaths from covid-19 in the UK are still running at up to ten times the rate in comparable west European countries.
There is no reason for complacency, therefore. The virus has not gone away but is still quietly and efficiently circulating. For example, in Truro this week I was surprised to find the place was largely a mask-free zone. Meanwhile, social distancing appears to be a novel concept for many tourists. No surprise then that a lot of natives are playing safe and staying well away from the coast this summer.
That said, the widely feared surge of the pandemic triggered by the holidaymaking hordes has not transpired. For that we can be grateful. But, as we have seen from other places which are better prepared to cope than us, outbreaks can flare up unpredictably. So be careful out there.