Revealed: The 114 areas with almost no new Covid cases
- Credit: Leon Neal/PA
More than three-quarters of Suffolk and north Essex neighbourhoods recorded next to no new Covid cases in the last week, as overall infection rates plunge to their lowest levels since September last year.
Public health data published on Saturday evening reveals that out of 145 postcode areas called MSOAs, 114 neighbourhoods across our region identified less than three new coronavirus infections in the week to April 26.
It means there were 31 areas where new Covid cases were identified.
Halesworth and Wangford had the fifth-highest infection rate in the country with 291 cases per 100,000 people and 21 infections identified. There was an increase of 18 cases in just seven days.
During that week, Edgar Sewter school in Halesworth declared an outbreak - announcing 17 confirmed cases as of Sunday, April 25.
As a result of the rising cases, headteacher Katherine Milk announced the school would close completely – including to the children of keyworkers – in a bid to stop the spread.
Just two people were admitted to the James Paget Hospital with Covid in the past week and there were four deaths reported across wider East Suffolk in the same period.
Elsewhere, infections remained in single figures with the second-highest number, seven cases, reported in Framlingham and Hacheston.
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Every other area recorded five infections or below.
A total of 114 areas, which have a combined population of more than 800,000, recorded three or fewer cases. Once cases drop below three, the government no longer publishes the exact number of new infections.
It includes swathes of north Essex, west Suffolk and Ipswich.
The low case numbers are being put down to the success of the vaccine rollout.
But health bosses told a Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting last week that recent outbreaks, such as the one at Ipswich Hospital, should serve as a reminder of the speed at which Covid still moves.
Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said: "This isn't just about hospitals, it's about everywhere. It's a reminder I think of where the virus is now.
"The key point I would take from this is the speed at which this still moves."
Ipswich Hospital last week confirmed an outbreak of the virus a fortnight ago saw cases among inpatients climb from three to 29 in just 48 hours, and hit 54 at its peak.
Those numbers have since come down and no patients were in intensive care, but the hospital took swift action to instigate an independent review of practices.
It resulted in strict daily audits taking place to ensure guidelines over facemasks and social distancing are being upheld.