Hadleigh's Covid rate effectively drops to zero weeks after outbreak
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The coronavirus infection rate in Hadleigh has effectively dropped to zero less than five weeks after the town recorded a "terrifyingly high" figure which was among the worst in the country.
Hadleigh experienced a "worrying" situation in November when more than 40 people tested positive for the virus at Magdalen House Care Home.
The town's infection rate rose to 807.3 cases per 100,000 people on Friday, November 13, when 90 new cases of the disease were recorded in just one week.
At this point Hadleigh had one of the highest rolling infection rates in the country, finding itself in the top 1.08% of middle layer super output areas (MSOA). It was then placed under a local Covid alert by Babergh District Council and residents were urged to "act now and protect each other", with a Covid marshall introduced in the high street.
However, less than five weeks later the town has had a huge turnaround, with the most recent government figures showing there have been less than three cases of the disease in the seven days up to Friday, December 11 - which effectively means the infection rate is zero.
There are also no current cases of Covid-19 at the care home and Public Health Suffolk has officially closed the outbreak, with regular testing of staff and residents resuming.
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The home was visited by officers from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on November 19 - around a week after the home closed to new residents and visitors.
In its report which has now been published, the watchdog said it had been "assured that the provider was making sure infection outbreaks can be effectively prevented or managed," and "was meeting shielding and social distancing rules".
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The report confirmed that PPE supplies were healthy, visitors were being prevented from catching or spreading the infection, Covid measures were up-to-date and access to testing was in place.
Public Health Suffolk, which deployed infection and prevention control teams to the home, confirmed it had carried out whole home testing, additional swabbing and follow up tests, and was now satisfied there were no further concerns.
That outbreak totalled 30 positive cases among staff and 21 residents testing positive.
Frank Minns, the town's mayor, said the new government figures are "astonishing" and has praised the work of residents for thinking about their community.
"The incidence is effectively zero," said Mr Minns, who was elected as mayor in September. "That is an amazing achievement when you think back to where we were only a few weeks ago, and it has only been possible because everyone has pulled together and thought hard about the safety of other people as much as their own. What a credit to our wonderful town."
Mr Minns said people in the town have been much stricter about wearing masks, and they have also had help from Babergh District Council with a Covid marshal introduced on the high street and posters put in place to enforce social distancing.
He said people have been following the rules carefully and are continuing to visit the high street to support independent businesses in the run-up to Christmas, but are doing so safely.
"We are clearly on the right track," he said. "Everyone is pulling together and it's really positive. I think it would have been impractical of Babergh to move into Tier 1 as we are surrounded by Tier 2 areas and people would have poured in to the pubs and restaurants in the town - so it was unavoidable."
Despite the positive drop in cases, Mr Minns is reminding people in Hadleigh to stay safe this Christmas and not to get complacent.
He said: "Just because you can bubble up with three households, doesn't necessarily mean that you should.
"We must do everything possible to continue to minimise the risk. Let's not blow it now as the vaccine is on the way."