‘We should not get carried away’: Suffolk leaders urge caution as UK passes coronavirus peak
- Credit: Archant
“We should not get carried away and think we shall soon be getting back to normal” - that is the warning from community leaders in Suffolk following the news that the UK is “past the peak” of Covid-19.
Prime minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Thursday that coronavirus is now on a “downward slope” after six weeks of lockdown.
The Conservative imposed tough restrictions on people’s lives on March 23, warning that as many as 500,000 people could die and that the NHS could be overwhelmed otherwise.
In the past few weeks, more than 25,000 coronavirus patients have died across the country, including hundreds in Suffolk and north Essex hospitals - while the crisis has brought many businesses to breaking point.
But Mr Johnson, who himself contracted coronavirus and ended up in intensive care, said this week: “We can now see the sunlight and the pasture ahead of us.
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“We are past the peak and on the downward slope.”
But although he said it was “good to hear Boris Johnson’s remarks that we’re past the peak”, Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Please remember the government’s instruction still stands - we should not be leaving our homes unless absolutely necessary.
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“It is crucially important that we don’t get lulled into a false sense of security, the lockdown is in place for our protection and we should see it as such.
“We all have a part to play in helping to reduce the impact on our emergency services, and to protect ourselves and our families, so I would implore everyone to keep up the good work.
“We have come too far to jeopardise the positive impact that the lockdown is having.
“We will get through this, but we have to be patient and we need to be sensible.
“I appreciate it’s difficult, but tragically, significant numbers of people are still dying so let’s all stick to the advice and we’ll get through this together.”
Russell Williams, chief executive of Ipswich Borough Council, said a “cautious approach is the right one”.
He added: “Throughout we shall be following government guidelines and adapting to any changes announced by the prime minister.
“But we should not get carried away and think we shall soon be getting back to normal.”
Even though Ipswich Market stalls started trading on Friday and the council announced brown bin collections would resume, the authority’s public buildings will remain closed until at least May 22.
Mr Williams said: “We are still stressing the need for social distancing to continue.
“The current situation is, perhaps, best described as a cautious beginning of a partial recovery phase.
“On Monday we are entering week seven of the lockdown restrictions. As I have said before, this is a long battle against coronavirus and we all need to be patient in the weeks and months ahead as we move slowly towards a ‘new’ normal.
“Exactly what that will look like nobody knows – and is unlikely to do so until an announcement at one of the government’s daily coronavirus press conferences - but we will ready to respond and will continue to communicate regularly with residents and businesses.”
Mr Johnson has also warned: “We must be sure that we can continue to protect the NHS and its ability to cope.
“We must see a sustained fall in deaths.
“We must all make sure that the measures we take do not risk a second spike that would overwhelm the NHS.”
The prime minister is preparing to set out how to kick-start the economy after more than a month of shutdown.
There have been five more reported deaths related to Covid-19 in Suffolk and north Essex.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, reported three of the deaths.
All three patients died at Colchester Hospital.
One of the patients was in their 90s, one in their 80s and one in their 50s.
All had underlying health conditions.
West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds reported two more deaths on Friday.