How do Tier 1 areas like Cornwall compare to Suffolk?
As the whole of Suffolk prepares to be placed under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, we look at how the current situation compares to Tier 1 areas such as Cornwall.
Only three places in the UK have been placed under Tier 1 restrictions, the lowest set of restrictions in England, where the current case rate is deemed “medium”.
The three areas are Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Local authority areas in Suffolk have consistently ranked among the lowest in England for its case rate per 100,000 people in recent weeks – with Mid Suffolk having the second lowest rate at 57.8 cases per 100,000 in the week to November 21, the latest figures available.
In fact, Mid Suffolk’s figure – which decreased from the previous week – is lower than all three areas under Tier 1.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, as a combined local authority area, recorded a case rate of 58.9 per 100,000 in the week to November 21, recording 337 new cases.
The other area, the Isle of Wight, recorded a rate of 59.3 per 100,000 with 84 new cases.
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So why is Suffolk not in Tier 1?
All of the East of England has been placed under Tier 2 restrictions – meaning all other local authority areas’ case rates have been taken into account, which all rank higher than the three areas in Tier 1.
West Suffolk’s figure is slightly higher than those areas, with its case rate in the week to November 21 standing at 63.7 per 100,000.
East Suffolk also appears among the lowest in England with a rate of 71.0 per 100,000.
The other two local authority areas however, Ipswich and Babergh – both recorded figures higher than 100.
Ipswich’s figure has continued to rise in recent days, despite its case rate having dropped into double digits last week.
Currently, the borough has the highest case rate of all local authorities in the county at 153.4 per 100,000 in the week to November 21 – rising from 85.5 the week prior.
Babergh on the other hand, which has seen figures soar recently following an outbreak in Hadleigh, saw its figure drop to 131.5 per 100,000 – down from 151 in the week to November 14.
Both were in the lowest 50% of authority areas nationwide, however.
According to Public Health England data, Suffolk as a whole has recorded 6,979 cases since the pandemic began, while Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have recorded 3,625. On the Isle of Wight, only 940 cases have been confirmed.
No cases have been confirmed on the Isles of Scilly for seven days.
What did Matt Hancock have to say?
A Department of Health and Social Care statement said the situation in Suffolk is “improving”.
The statement read: “There is an improving picture across the majority of Suffolk. The case rate has fallen to 82 per 100,000 with drops in rate in four of the five local authorities.
“Across Suffolk, case rates in over 60s are also falling (72 per 100,000).”
Speaking in the House of Commons, health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock praised local NHS services in Suffolk for their role in combatting the virus.
However, despite his own constituency having the lowest coronavirus case rate among the over 60s, Mr Hancock said it is necessary for Suffolk to be placed under Tier 2 restrictions.
He said: “The lowest case rates are in Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly which will go into Tier 1.
“In all three areas, they’ve had very low case rates throughout and I want to thank residents for being so vigilant through the whole pandemic.
“Despite the fact Suffolk overall has the lowest case rate outside Cornwall and the Isle of Wight (both in Tier 1) our judgement, looking at all the indicators and based on public health advice, is that Suffolk needs to be in Tier 2 to get the virus further under control.
“I hope Suffolk and so many other parts of the country can get to Tier 1 soon,” Mr Hancock added.