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Plea made not to push rule of six limits as coronavirus cases increase in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 16:30 23 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:50 23 October 2020

Suffolk Public Health gave an update on the Covid-19 situation in the county. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Suffolk Public Health gave an update on the Covid-19 situation in the county. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

Don’t push the limits of the Covid-19 rule of six.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, said people needed to be sensible when meeting with others. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILStuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, said people needed to be sensible when meeting with others. Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

That’s the message Suffolk Public Health chiefs have urged people to heed amid increasing coronavirus cases.

Friday’s meeting of the Suffolk local outbreak engagement board heard that coronavirus cases were on the rise, but were below those seen nationally – around two thirds of the England average.

But a fresh plea was made not to try to push the boundaries of the rule of six, where you can meet no more than five other people.

Suffolk’s director of public health, Stuart Keeble, said: “In general it’s down to household spread.

Babergh District Council leader John Ward said the rule six of was not working. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBabergh District Council leader John Ward said the rule six of was not working. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It’s people meeting up, people coming together – we spread the virus.

“I know people get concerned about is it the supermarket or work places, and they are part of that mix, but generally when we go back to look at the contact tracing a lot of it is down to the issue of meeting up with people.”

Mr Keeble said it was not about stopping people meeting up because that was good for mental health and wellbeing, but “we just need to be more sensible about that and not push that over the edge”.

The government rules mean people could go out each night of the week and meet with a different group of five people without breaching restrictions, but would go against the spirit of measures to reduce the spread.

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Babergh District Council leader John Ward said: “It’s clear the rule of six, in terms of household mixing, is not working and probably won’t.

“I know we can’t reduce the number but we do need to keep up a really focused communications strategy that is based around telling people this is what the rules say, but be realistic and be sensible about it.

“Try to keep your interactions less than six and much less frequently than once in the morning, once in the afternoon and every day of the week.

“If we continue at the moment we are not going to be able to hold the line.”

According to police, there were 42 reports in the last seven days of breaches of the rule of six.

Figures for the last seven days showed there were 390 new Covid-19 cases, which was lower than the average nationally but much higher than the 20 cases reported in the county at the end of August.

According to Mr Keeble the prevalence in the new cases is more among the 40-69 age group now, instead of the 18-39 category where cases were most prevalent a few weeks ago.

He said: “As we have seen in other parts of the country, generally the young people contract the virus and then starts to spread to the older members of the household.

“The biggest concern is if it starts to move into the 70+ age group.”

Elsewhere, the public health team said it had noted some examples of small outbreaks caused by mixing in staff rooms or workplaces, and urged people to abide by the ‘hands, face, space’ message where they work.


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