The Director of Public Health Dorset says visitors coming into the county before Christmas are most the likely reason for the recent spike in the COVID-19 rate.
Sam Crowe also described the coronavirus infection at Guys Marsh Prison as ‘a serious outbreak’.
During Tuesday’s Joint Public Health Board meeting, Mr Crowe said ‘the working hypothesis’ is that London residents coming into the county and socialising over the holiday period led to cases being transmitted, ‘much more quickly than we would have anticipated’. And he says that more transmissible variants are, ‘turning up in an increasing proportion of cases’.
The spike in cases stretched Dorset’s hospitals. “At the end of April, we had around 130 people in hospital with COVID-19. And at the worst of this second wave, we had around 550 people in the local hospitals,” said Sam, adding, “It’s still high, although it is coming down quite quickly now, which is a relief.”
Dorset Council and Dorset Police have responded to claims that out-of-county visitors brought the virus into Dorset with a campaign to discourage residents and visitors from traveling around Dorset during half term. The police will continue to question motorists about their reason for travel.
In many instances, police have had to rely on encouraging government guidance, rather than law. While some people have called for clearer rules and stricter enforcement, leader of Dorset Council, Spencer Flower, tells Alfred that he doesn’t think police need to change their approach.