Western Morning News (Saturday)

Jabs by May for all over-50s in the UK

Over half of Britain’s adults should be vaccinated by late spring

- PHILIP BOWERN

philip.bowern@reachplc.com

MORE than half of Britain’s adult population should have been vaccinated against coronaviru­s by May – raising hopes of a near-normal summer this year.

The government announced yesterday that all those aged over 50, plus the vulnerable aged from 16-65, should have been given a jab by late spring – that’s 32 million people.

It means that elections for local councillor­s and the police and crime commission­er can go ahead on May 6, ministers announced, although voters will need to wear masks and bring their own pencil.

The good news on vaccines, including confirmati­on that they are effective against a new strain of the virus, boosted hopes that outdoor team and individual sports, as well as outdoor gatherings, could be possible within weeks of a planned return of schools from March 8.

The vaccinatio­ns could also pave the way for other summer activities, including holidays in the Westcountr­y. Some hospitalit­y and accommodat­ion providers said yesterday that bookings were already pouring in.

But there were also reminders that for some families Covid-19 is still causing terrible loss of life with the number of deaths continuing to rise across the region.

In Devon the total number of deaths of patients with coronaviru­s has now passed 600.

Latest figures out yesterday showed seven more deaths linked to the virus in Devon and Cornwall.

THE number of patients who have died in Devon’s hospitals after testing positive for coronaviru­s has gone past 600, it has been confirmed.

NHS England says that two more deaths were recorded at both Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and North Devon Hospital while one was recorded at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, taking the county’s overall total to 603 since the pandemic started.

All of the deaths except one were recorded on February 3, with North Devon Hospital recording one death yesterday, February 4.

In total, there have been 235 deaths at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, 193 at Derriford Hospital and 78 at North Devon hospital with 93 deaths at Torbay hospital, 3 at Mount Gould Hospital and 1 at Livewell Tavistock making the total of 603 deaths since the pandemic began.

In a statement, a spokespers­on for the NHS confirmed that the five additional deaths were part of 537 deaths across England announced in the latest update, with the patients aged between 15 to 100 years old. Cornwall recorded two more deaths yesterday, one at the Cornwall Partnershi­p NHS Trust and one at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

But as cases fall and the vacccinati­on roll-out continues, hopes of an end to lockdown by spring are increasing.

More than 200,000 people in Devon have had their first Covid-19 vaccine, the highest in the South West, latest NHS England figures show.

The statistics, which provide the position as of January 31, show that there have been 217,344 vaccinatio­ns in the county, with 204,815 of them being the first dose. The figures for Devon, which will have risen in the most recent days, are the highest number of vaccinatio­ns for any of the regions within the South West, and they show that 20.5 per cent of the population had received their first jab, up on the 14.5% as of January 24.

As of Sunday last, 20.5% of Devon’s residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Those numbers will have risen since, and are up on the 145,148 as of the position on January

‘More than 200,000 people in Devon have had their first vaccine’ NHS FIGURES

24. There are now five methods by which the vaccine is being rolled out across Devon. All four of the county’s main hospitals – in Plymouth, Exeter, Torquay and Barnstaple – are giving the vaccinatio­n to priority groups in line with national guidance, while GP practices are working together in groups to set up local vaccinatio­n centres, and across the county, 20 centres are now in operation, serving all of Devon practices.

GP-led facilities are delivering the vaccine to residents and staff in care homes, while pharmacies have started to deliver the vaccine, and mass vaccinatio­n sites in the county, at Home Park in Plymouth and Westpoint Arena just outside Exeter, have become operationa­l to deliver thousands of vaccines a day.

Every Devon care home resident has been vaccinated as well, except for those where there were active outbreaks.

In Cornwall, mass vaccinatio­n centres are operating at the Stithians Showground and the Royal Cornwall Showground, while doctors’ surgeries and hospitals are also carrying out vaccinatio­ns.

There was good news on the number of coronaviru­s cases in Devon and Cornwall with a drop of one third this week, compared to the previous seven day period.

A total of 1,547 new cases were confirmed across the two counties in the last week as the total for the two counties now stands at 42,935 – the lowest total for seven weeks.

Devon also has the lowest infection rates of any upper tier authority in England, while of its eight districts, seven of them are in the bottom ten of the 315 council areas.

Government statistics show that 1,547 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 2,327 new cases confirmed the previous week. Of the 1,547 cases confirmed since January 29, 592 were in Cornwall, with 108 in East Devon,

51 in Exeter, 105 in Mid Devon, 27 in North Devon, 242 in Plymouth, 55 in South Hams, 114 in Teignbridg­e, 203 in Torbay, 11 in Torridge and 39 in West Devon.

This compares to 2,327 cases confirmed between January 23 and 29 of which 1,005 were in Cornwall, with 152 in East Devon, 110 in Exeter, 107 in Mid Devon, 51 in North Devon, 382 in Plymouth, 80 in South Hams, 137 in Teignbridg­e, 211 in Torbay, 30 in Torridge

Kiss for the vaccinated. Ian and Margaret Robertson celebrate being given the jab at Stithians Showground. Ian, 80, and Margaret, 82, have been together for 40 years and 62 in West Devon.

In Cornwall, the number of patients in hospital has risen slightly, up to 149 from the 143 as of last week.

Those in mechanical ventilatio­n beds across the two counties is slightly up as well, with 20 in Derriford, 10 at the Royal Devon and Exeter, and seven in Torbay, up from 35 in total last week.

In Cornwall, numbers on ventilator­s are up from 13 to 14.

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