How Suffolk's current Covid figures compare to Tier 4 rules last Christmas
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Suffolk was placed in lockdown-style Tier 4 measures on Boxing Day last year to tackle rising coronavirus cases — but how do the figures compare 12 months on?
Then-Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock announced on December 23 last year that Covid cases were rising "sharply" in East Anglia due to a new, mutated form of the virus.
The new measures, which included non-essential shops, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues closing, came into effect at 00.01am on Boxing Day.
Suffolk has been experiencing high Covid rates throughout this December, but no major restrictions are currently in place.
How does the current situation compare with a year ago? We took a look at the data:
What is the difference in Suffolk's infection rate?
The overall infection rate in Suffolk was 199 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to December 22 last year after 1,535 new infections were reported in a week.
This figure would start to rise in the first few weeks of 2021, reaching 528.1 cases per 100,000 people on January 13.
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However, case rates started to fall from a mid-January peak — with Suffolk's figure down to 90.8 cases per 100,000 people by Valentine's Day in February.
There has been a surge in infection rates in Suffolk over the last few weeks in line with the rest of the country.
The most recent data, for the seven days up to December 22, revealed Suffolk's infection rate was 720.1 cases per 100,000 people — with 730 infections reported in a week.
How many people are in hospital?
Last Christmas, the hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex were seeing an unprecedented number of Covid patients — but the figure would only get higher.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, was caring for 197 patients on December 21 last year, with West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds treating 79.
The combined figure for the hospitals would surge at the start of 2021 before peaking at 704 on January 18, a figure that has not been reached since.
The region's hospitals are treating a comparatively low number of Covid patients this winter, with ESNEFT caring for 63 and West Suffolk Hospital 22 respectively on December 21 this year.
How many people are dying with Covid?
Data on deaths can lag behind figures on infection rates and hospital admissions.
For the week up to December 11 last year, there were 29 deaths with Covid recorded on the death certificate in Suffolk.
The death rate would continue to rise at the start of the new year and in January, before falling line with infection rates.
Mercifully, there have been fewer deaths with Covid on the death certificate this winter — with only six in Suffolk for the week up to December 10, 2021.
How many people have had the vaccine?
Raymond Wray, 81, made history when he became the first person to receive the Pfizer Covid vaccine in the Suffolk and North East Essex CCG region on December 9 last year.
By last Christmas, only a select several hundred over-80s in the region had been called for their first shot.
The vaccine rollout was ramped up and expanded over the first few months in the year, and the Suffolk and North East Essex CCG hit the millionth jab milestone in May and two millionth just before Christmas.
In Suffolk alone, the total number of first, second and booster doses administered up to December 23 was 1,586,062.
What are the latest developments in Suffolk?
Suffolk was made an Enhanced Response Area for five weeks in late autumn as Covid rates were high, while the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star newspapers launched the 'Grab the Jab' campaign to encourage take-up of the vaccine.
But the emergence of the Omicron variant has sparked fears of tighter restrictions being reintroduced in England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all enforcing more measures from Boxing Day.
Suffolk's MPs are preparing to return to Parliament for a potential vote if the government deems further restrictions are necessary.