Suffolk 'very unlikely' to move into tier three restrictions, says MP

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk MP has said he thinks it is "very unlikely" that the county will be placed into tier three Covid-19 measures after it was reported that the region was at risk of seeing harsher restrictions. 

Concerns have been raised after a report, which suggested that Suffolk was one of four districts poised to be placed into tier three next week, was featured in The Sun. 

A map produced by the newspaper showed the county alongside Warrington and Cheshire, Buckinghamshire and Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset as the four areas which may be at risk of being moved onto harsher restrictions.

However, figures show that coronavirus rates remain low in the county and Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has said that he thinks it "very unlikely" that the county will face harsher restrictions when the decision is reviewed on December 16.

"I think, bearing in mind we were very close to being in tier one when the tier system came in, it would be a pretty extraordinary state of affairs for us to then potentially go up to tier three," he said. 

"It would be very unusual and I think it is something that is very unlikely." 

Data used in The Sun's article also shows a different picture than what has previously been reported on.

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The figures which have been released by health science company ZOE and King’s College London are based on the number of people who record symptoms on an app and the proportion of those people who then return a positive swab. 

Data analysis then predicts the true number of cases in each region.

It is correct to say that Suffolk is one of only four districts with a rising Covid-19 rate according to the data. However, the county’s coronavirus rate remains one of the lowest in the country.

Out of 47 regions, only three have a lower case rate than Suffolk, which in the seven days up to December 4 had 226 cases per 100,000 people, according to the data.

Lincolnshire, which is the region in tier three with the lowest case rate, still had more than double the number of predicted cases than Suffolk, seeing 482 cases per 100,000 people. 

The study also predicted that in over 60s, 51 cases were seen per 100,000 in the week up to December 4 in Suffolk. 

In Lincolnshire, the number of cases per 100,000 people over 60 was 223. 

There is also no information to show how much cases have risen over the past week.

Mr Hunt also asked residents to continue following guidelines, especially as there is now a "light at the end of the tunnel". 

"This week we've had some really really good news with the vaccine," he added.

"We now know with a degree of certainty that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and that this will come to an end. 

"But, we are still seeing in Ipswich cases that are higher than we would like. 

"We have to try to work together to get to a point where we begin to see an emerging pattern which shows the number of Covid cases in the region is declining."