How well prepared is Suffolk for an outbreak of coronavirus?

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Residents have been assured Suffolk is well-prepared for an outbreak of coronavirus as NHS leaders brace themselves for the illness to spread to the county.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, is leading the county's response through the Suffolk Resiliance Forum (SFS) - where councils, emergency services, the NHS and others join forces to deal with major challenges facing the area.

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Mr Keeble said that while there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Suffolk, the forum has been holding telephone conferences and meetings as part of a bid to monitor the situation.

It has put in place plans for different scenarios, including one for pandemic influenza, which it will adapt depending on how the illness breaks and develops.

One thing the forum is planning for though is that Suffolk will have to deal with coronavirus at some point, with Mr Keeble saying: "I am not going to tell you there won't be any cases in Suffolk."

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Nationally, the government has said the goal is to delay the spread of the virus and contain the number of cases, in order to make it easier to deal with later on.

Mr Keeble said: "The bit people can take control of is the hand-washing."

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Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has also said people should prepare for cases to be confirmed in Suffolk - but believes health services are braced for the impact.

He said: "We're now moving beyond the stage of trying to contain the virus to the stage of slowing it.

"It is inevitable there will be cases in Suffolk, if not already.

"Preparations have been under way locally for several weeks now. We are well placed.

"As long as we can slow down transmission, that should allow our hospitals time to get over the busy winter period."

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: "I asked the constabulary about preparedness for coronavirus, which is on everyone's minds at the moment.

"The constabulary is fully involved with the Suffolk Resilience Forum and plans are well advanced.

"We don't want to alarm people, but we can reassure them that plans are well-developed and involve all agencies.

"If the virus were to strike and we ended up with a lot of people in self-isolation, plans have been developed to make sure we are as robust as possible."

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