7,300 positive Covid cases in young people

Stuart Keeble

Suffolk director of public health Stuart Keeble has warned that covid case numbers are rising rapidly. - Credit: Suffolk County Council

More than half of Covid cases in the region are in young people under the age of 19, says Suffolk's director of public health.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Stuart Keeble, Suffolk County Council's director of public health, explained the measures the council will bring in to deal with the county's rising coronavirus infection rate - having seen a rise in cases in age groups outside of schools. 

On Monday, the council announced face masks and other additional measures will be reintroduced in schools from November 1. 

Mr Keeble said 7,300 students have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 28 days. 

He told Radio 4: "About 51% of our cases are in the under 19s age group, and that's what has been driving a large increase in our cases, particularly in 10 to 14-year-olds.

"Potentially in previous parts of the pandemic we haven't been hit as hard in Suffolk and it's really working its way through the younger population at the moment."

However, Mr Keeble is concerned that this rise in cases amongst young people is starting to spread to more vulnerable groups. 

"We started to see an increase in cases in the parent age group of those in secondary school the last few weeks, and now we are seeing an increase in our over 60s rate."

Most Read

"We saw a 58% increase in our over 60s, so yes, it is working its way up through the age groups.

"Although the focus has been in schools with our efforts, we have taken additional actions above and beyond masks. If a student had Covid and they had a sibling, we asked them to stay at home for three days and take a PCR test to break the chains of transmission.

"We are asking teaching staff to wear a mask outside of the classroom in shared spaces, as well as pupils in secondary and higher education.

"We are also trying to reduce visits to schools and asking parents to wear masks when they come in. We're just trying to support the breaking of the chain of transmission."

Mr Keeble described the act of making plans as "a balancing act" adding that "there's a recognition of the high rates in Suffolk at the moment".

"The key thing we want to recommend is face coverings in shared spaces when people are moving around, but we also recognise face coverings affect the delivery of education so that's why we didn't recommend it in classes.

"The lead now is to try and keep students in classes, because we've had around 7,300 pupils test positive in the last 28 days. If we keep the transmission rates down we can keep more pupils in school as well, while the vaccination program is rolled out to 12-15 year olds.

"Vaccination rates in our 12 to 15 year olds are not as high as we need to get them, but we know programs are now being run out so that in half term pupils will be able to go to the mass vaccination sites so they can get jabbed if they missed out at school. 

"The NHS, which lead on this, is doing a huge amount of work to try and ensure the delivery of the booster program, we heard the secretary of state last night, but there have been significant coms going out in Suffolk and north east Essex yesterday. 

"In Suffolk and north east Essex we do have something slightly different in that people who were vaccinated more than six months ago can now attend the walk-in vaccination centres for them to get their boosters."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter