By Anne North
The number of all-time Covid-19 infections recorded in Cornwall is about to pass a symbolic milestone, having reached 999 cases yesterday (Sunday.)
There was only one new case confirmed in Cornwall during the past 24 hours, but news that testing capacity for Cornwall has been withdrawn and transferred to the north of England means the local figures are almost meaningless.
Whitehall’s decision to prioritise areas with higher numbers of cases means that Cornwall’s local public health officials are now blind to the true situation as they try to contain the virus.
Schools are a particular concern. One school, at Haverhill, Suffolk – the constituency of Health Secretary Matt Hancock – has seen five teachers confirmed with Covid-19 within days of reopening.
Yesterday saw the UK as a whole record an astonishing 50% increase in new cases, with nearly 3,000 people testing positive in a single 24 hour period.
A former regional director for public health for the South West, professor Gabriel Scally, told The Guardian: “They’ve lost control of the virus. It’s no longer small outbreaks they can stamp on.
“It’s become endemic in our poorest communities and this is the result. It’s extraordinarily worrying when schools are opening and universities are going to be going back.”
Typically it takes two weeks for new cases to need hospital treatment, which ties in with the long-held forecast of Cornwall’s health chiefs that late September-October would bring fresh strain on the Royal Cornwall hospital, Truro.
But the majority of new cases now appear to be in younger people who usually have milder infections than the over-50s, and might not need acute treatment in hospital.