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How Suffolk’s coronavirus figures compare to the last time we went into lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:48 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:54 23 September 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Suffolk and north Essex remains low, according to public health figures Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The number of coronavirus cases in Suffolk and north Essex remains low, according to public health figures Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

The latest round of coronavirus restrictions came on the day infection rate figures in Suffolk continued to fall.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement also came nearly three months after the last Covid-19 death was reported at the region’s biggest NHS trust, which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

In that time, more people have died on the county’s roads.

It has been a fortnight since someone died with Covid-19 at West Suffolk Hospital, with the most recent death before that happening in July.

Case numbers are continuing to fall, and remain among the lowest in the country.

While overall infection rates across Suffolk are similar to late March, at around seven per 100,000 people, across most districts the figures are lower than before the first lockdown.

Our latest data, based on official figures, reveals that Mid Suffolk had just three Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the week to September 19. Its infection rate puts it among 20 areas with the lowest number of cases in England.

The most recent numbers also showed a fall in Babergh, Ipswich and West Suffolk, with the latter dropping after a rise in cases in early September.

MORE: Over 100 more Ipswich pupils self-isolating after child shows coronavirus symptoms

Even so, outbreaks at schools such as Northgate High in Ipswich, where 137 pupils are currently self-isolating, serve a timely reminder as to how a single case can cause big repercussions for hundreds of people.

Yet nationwide, it is an altogether different picture. There are more cases and higher rates of infection than there were when we first went into lockdown.

It is this sudden uptick that has prompted the government to impose the new restrictions – though the Prime Minister has stopped short of a full national lockdown this time around.

The important thing now is what happens to the trajectory of these new Covid-19 cases, and whether it leads to hundreds of people needing hospital treatment or dying.

Our charts show no signs of a rise in hospital admissions or deaths in the east of England yet.

When we first went into lockdown, there were 106 hospital admissions for Covid-19 in the east. The most recent figure, up to September 20, shows there were six.

MORE: ‘I was once a healthy mum… now my body is attacking itself from the inside’ - the effects of long-term covid

As of today, West Suffolk Hospital said it is treating one confirmed case and nine patients with symptoms.

There are four patients at Ipswich and nine at Colchester, who are either Covid-19 positive now, or have been in the past six weeks.

The new restrictions will be a tricky balancing for the Government, as ministers battle to prevent the virus from spiralling out of control, while maintaining some freedoms to keep the economy afloat.

Slides from the national briefing on September 21 on coronavirus figures by chief medical officer Chris Whitty show cases either falling or level in the east of England. Picture: Prime Minister’'s Press OfficeSlides from the national briefing on September 21 on coronavirus figures by chief medical officer Chris Whitty show cases either falling or level in the east of England. Picture: Prime Minister’'s Press Office

But in the map of England, which chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty used in a presentation on Monday, much of Suffolk and north Essex are a reassuring shade of green and light brown, meaning cases are either falling, or are staying level.

The chart does show a darker shade of brown in West Suffolk, where a rise in cases recently occurred largely due to the outbreak at Samuel Ward Academy, though it reflects numbers in the seven days to September 9, when the outbreak was first detected.

With just hours to go until the new restrictions come in, MPs in Suffolk have spoken of the need to balance public health concerns over Covid-19 with the impact of restrictions on the economy.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt went as far as to say: “It seems we are being punished.”

But one thing is for sure in this fresh fight against the virus - the Government cannot afford to wait for deaths to rise before it takes action.


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