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Staycation hotspots see ‘huge spike in Covid cases’ as rates climb in Devon, Lake District and Cornwall


The summer travel boom is blamed for an explosion of virus cases at some of Britain’s most popular tourist spots, and people on vacation in the UK are urged to take Covid tests before traveling.

Authorities have sounded the alarm after infection rates in areas such as Pembrokeshire, Devon, the Lake District and Argyll and Bute more than doubled in a week.

Cumbria County Council public health director Colin Cox has advised holidaymakers to take lateral flow tests before visiting the area after infection rates soared by nearly 200% in a week in the District of Eden – which includes parts of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks and the North Pennine region of outstanding natural beauty.

Earlier this week, Cornwall’s tourism chiefs took the unusual step of asking non-residents to think twice before heading to the county. Malcolm Bell, the general manager of Visit Cornwall, advised people not to come unless they have booked accommodation and asked day trippers to book attractions, activities and meals in advance.

The number of infections in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly rose 67% in one week. Nearly 5,000 cases have been attributed to a “super-spreader” event, the Boardmasters music and surf festival held in Newquay a fortnight ago.

The pattern is repeated across Great Britain. Covid cases in East Anglia are increasing in all but one local authority area and have increased most rapidly in the Broadlands area around the Norfolk Broads, where riverboats and campsites have been operating at 100% capacity for summer school holidays.

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The district of western Oxfordshire, where television presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s new agricultural store in Chadlington frequently stops traffic, saw a weekly increase of 73.3%.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said genomic studies, which can accurately pinpoint the origin of an outbreak in the country, have repeatedly shown that when cases increase in Holiday hot spots, this is likely caused by visitors from other areas.

She said: “Rural or remote areas tend to have lower infection rates throughout the pandemic due to a sparser and older population. When new people arrive, often from urban areas that have had higher infection levels, they spike in these vacation hot spots. “

Professor Bauld said that although the government has prioritized testing for travelers arriving from abroad, insufficient emphasis has been placed on testing domestic tourists.

She said: ‘For people going on holiday or traveling to another part of the UK it is good to test before you go, just like international travel. It would be great to have a few more posts on this.

However, foreigners are not necessarily to blame for every outbreak, as even areas with very few tourists can have unexplained spikes.

Professor Bauld said that “something strange was happening in Dumfries and Galloway”, a rural area of ​​Scotland which receives relatively few holidaymakers, where cases rose 149% from week to week. other.

Cumbria’s health chief Mr Cox has asked tourists to make sure they are virus-free as a “courtesy” to locals. attracted thousands of visitors, resulted in no increase in cases.

He told people who were planning to visit Cumbria: “Please come, because it is a beautiful place and you will have a great time. But if you come here, please take a test before you travel.

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