COVID infections are falling across Devon after they spiked around Christmas time.

Roughly 3.8 per cent per cent of tests came back as positive on Tuesday, January 3, the most recent day of data, down from a recent peak of just under six per cent at the end of December.

It means around one in 25 people in the region probably have covid, although specific numbers are now difficult to establish because of lower amounts of testing than at the height of the pandemic.

The latest data reveals significantly fewer people in Devon’s hospitals now have the virus – 63 patients as of Wednesday, January 18, compared to a recent peak of 281 in the week leading up to Christmas Day.

In addition, a Team Devon meeting of local leaders yesterday, Thursday, was told levels of flu are now falling rapidly. Around one in three people in England are believed to have some form of flu in the penultimate week of 2022, but this is now down to just over 10 per cent.

Anthony Fitzgerald, from NHS Devon, revealed that at one point in December 800 staff were off sick.

He said this was one of the major reasons why it twice went into critical incidents as it impacted their ability to discharge patients.

‘There was also a period where we had a number of beds closed,’ Mr Fitzgerald said. ‘ie we could not use them because they had infectious patients in – either coivd or flu – and that peaked at 150 closed beds across the system. Obviously, that has a massive impact in terms of capacity.’

He added he was ‘pleased to say that we seem to be coming out of that.’

Nearly three in four (73 per cent) people aged 12 and over in Devon have now had at least three doses of a covid vaccine.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: ‘Please be careful and make sure you get your jabs if and when they are available. And if you haven’t had them, for goodness sake have them.’

The Team Devon local outbreak engagement board, set up at the beginning of the pandemic to co-ordinate the county’s response to covid, agreed to hold one more meeting in March or April before it is likely stood down.