Suffolk Covid rates 'as far as we are going to come down' says health chief

The Fields in Trust research shows that green spaces and parks such as Christchurch Park will be ove

Meet ups of up to six people will be allowed from March 29 - Credit: Archant

Suffolk's public health chief has said levels of Covid-19 in the county are as low as they are likely to get as more restrictions ease next week.

But he urged people to be patient with easing of restrictions and not jump the gun.

Addressing Friday's Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting, Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said: "We have seen the continued decrease overall in the rate of Covid detected in Suffolk, and I think we have probably now hit about as far as we are probably going to come down with the balance of starting to open things up and circulation of the virus more broadly."

Mr Keeble said some areas in Ipswich and Mid Suffolk had seen a slight rise in the last fortnight, explaining: "The majority of that change relates to school aged children. Particularly in Ipswich we have seen a number of cases, and that has what has really driven the increase recently.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble - Credit: Suffolk County Council

"What is welcome is that though we have seen some large changes in both of those areas the rates in over 60s continues to stay relatively stable."

According to latest numbers, all age groups from 10 and above were down between March 14 and 20 while the 0-9 age group had increased by 107%.

Public health teams have been carrying out increased testing at schools to hunt down the virus. Hospital beds were currently at around 23 patients for Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals compared to more than 180 during the peak.

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The next stage of lockdown easing begins next week in which up to six people will be allowed to meet outdoors, while some outdoor sports clubs can open. 'Stay at home' guidance changes to 'stay local'.

But Mr Keeble urged people to be patient and not push the limits of rules.

Bury St Edmunds town centre during the third UK lockdown Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

People have been urged to stay patient on opening up of Covid-19 restrictions - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

"Being outside is far safer and the risk of spread is far lower. If people start to take that as permission to mix in houses, this is where we will still see the virus spread," he said.

"The first vaccine gives you a good level of protection but you need the second one, and also not everyone will be vaccinated.

"The reality is if we move too quickly and don't time that with the vaccination we will start to see cases taking off. 

"If we are patient we will get us where we need to get to quicker."