Government to send Suffolk extra support to tackle high Covid rates
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
National coronavirus support teams are to be deployed in Suffolk in a bid to bring down the county's infection rates.
Suffolk is to become an Enhanced Response Area (ERA) at the request of the local outbreak engagement board, the Government has announced.
This means teams would support work around vaccinations, outbreaks — including significant outbreaks in schools — and communications for a five-week period.
Other measures set to be introduced include fast-tracking decisions to government, enhanced measures in schools, national teams supporting local outbreak teams with surge testing, additional volunteers being recruited and more funding for messaging.
The decision, made by the UK Health Security Agency and the government, comes after Suffolk reported almost 4,000 new infections in a week — a rate of 528.3 cases per 100,000 people.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, chair Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board and leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “I very much welcome this additional help and funding from the Government. It will support our already considerable efforts to get more people vaccinated and to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Suffolk.
“Throughout the pandemic, Suffolk has been effective at keeping our COVID rates low compared to other parts of the country. This is because we have worked hard and been proactive at every stage.
“The situation facing Suffolk now calls for the same forward-thinking and preventative work to protect residents, businesses and our way of life.
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“As we learn to live with COVID-19, it will be actions such as this that prevent COVID from having an even worse impact and, ultimately, holding back our recovery.”
Before Suffolk was made an ERA, it is believed the south-west of England was the only area of the country to receive extra government support at the end of August.
Ipswich had the highest infection rate in the country at one point last week, though this has started to fall in the last few days.
The overall rate for Suffolk is higher than the national average for England, with admissions in hospitals also steadily rising.
Meanwhile, there has been a steady increase in the number of Covid patients being treated at hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex - rising by about a third in a week.