Suffolk Covid rates declining, but increased deaths expected

Suffolk covid cases: Latest coronavirus infection rates have been revealed Picture: SARAH LUCY BROW

Public Health Suffolk said the virus was still in the community - Credit: Archant

Covid-19 rates are falling in Suffolk - but public health chiefs have warned that deaths are likely to still increase for the next three weeks.

A gathering of health leaders at the county's Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday heard that the latest complete week's data indicated the rate for the county was at 435 per 100,000 people, compared to the 584 per 100,000 at January 4.

It is anticipated that the halving rate for infections was between 12 and 38 days, depending on location in the county.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said it was "considerably worse" than the first wave but added: "It’s positive that we are starting to see rates of Covid-19 falling in Suffolk and nationally. This shows that what we are doing is starting to have an effect, but we still have a long way to go.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said falling Covid rates were encouraging but needed to continue coming down a lot further - Credit: Suffolk County Council

"Rates in Suffolk remain 60 times higher than they were in September, and we need to see a steady decline in the number of cases before we can expect to see any easing of national restrictions from Government."

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Mr Keeble said the highest rates were among the working-age population, and remained high in the over 60s, but positive test rates were dropping at the same time as testing numbers were increasing, which meant that fewer traces of the virus are being found in the community.

But it was warned that deaths may still increase over the next three weeks.

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"Our health and care services are under considerable pressure still, and will be for the foreseeable future," Mr Keeble said.

"I would like to reiterate the point that if you are acutely unwell then please still contact the emergency services, and GP services are still open. But clearly the hospitals themselves have got large numbers of admissions.

"This is then flowing through unfortunately into the number of deaths.

"This isn't going to drop off straight away - actually we are probably going to see those numbers increase over the next few weeks because the virus is still working its way through communities at the moment, and it may take a while before they become unwell, hospitalised, and sadly some of those will lose their lives.

A patient receives a coronavirus vaccine dose at Two Rivers Medical Centre in Ipswich

Increased vaccinations, warmer weather and the full effects of lockdown should see Covid rates dramatically lower by mid-February, said Public Health Suffolk - Credit: Archant

"Probably by mid-February we might start to see a definite change - a combination of the most vulnerable being vaccinated, the impacts of the lockdown and also change of weather."

A fresh plea has been made for people in Suffolk to continue to observe social distancing, wear masks and wash hands frequently, and asked people to isolate if they test positive, develop symptoms or come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

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