East and West Suffolk put on Covid-19 watchlist as cases continue to rise
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Health chiefs have tonight put East and West Suffolk on the regional coronavirus watchlist because of a continued rise in cases.
The news was described as a “shot across our bows” by the man leading the response in Suffolk, who called for people to use “common sense” to stop the virus from spreading.
West Suffolk has seen 43 cases in the last 7 days, or 33 per 100,000 people.
In East Suffolk, 46 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week, or 30.9 cases per 100,000 people. It has resulted in Public Health England placing both districts on a Covid watchlist.
Public Health Suffolk said spikes have been seen specifically in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket, Beccles, Bungay, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
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As a consequence, East and West Suffolk were placed on the regional watch list.
However, they remain off the national watch list.
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Stuart Keeble, director of Public Health Suffolk, said the rise in cases is not specifically linked to a certain group of people, or type of workplace.
He said: “Unfortunately, the number of cases in the county, particularly in East and West Suffolk, has continued to increase. This is a shot across Suffolk’s bows and means that we all need to sit up and pay attention – Covid-19 is circulating in our communities.
“But the good news is that we can quickly bring numbers back down again by using our common sense and stop the virus from spreading.”
The news comes as Public Health East called on people to “pull together” to help reverse the upward trend.
A spokesman said: “The east of England is beginning to reflect what is being seen in other parts of the country with a steady rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 and although we may not yet be in a similar situation as some of the areas in the north, the increasing rates of infection are cause for concern and action.
“I urge everyone to pull together and help reverse this upward trend.
“Please adhere to the rule of six and follow guidelines around social distancing, face coverings and hand washing. Remember hands, face, space.
“If you experience a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste, we ask that you self-isolate immediately and arrange a test.
“By being disciplined and following these rules, you greatly reduce the risk to yourself and those you love. It really is simple – by following the advice you are doing your bit and if we all do this together, we will build a defence and help protect others who may be at a higher risk at getting seriously ill should they become exposed to the infection.”
What do local councils have to say?
Suffolk County Council
Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council, and Chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board said that if the county carries on as it is they could “move towards tougher restrictions”.
He said: “I ask that all Suffolk residents, especially those in East and West Suffolk, remind themselves of the importance of washing your hands, covering your face and keeping your distance from others.
“We simply must stop the transmission of the virus between people.
“You can still meet people you don’t live with, in groups of up to six – but you must still keep two metres apart.
“We are not living in normal times: if you’re visiting the shops, don’t stand directly next to others in the checkout queue or when browsing shelves; give people space when passing in the street; if you visit somewhere that looks busy, come back later.
“Residents in East and West Suffolk have done exceptionally well to keep the number of cases to some of the lowest in the country.
“However, if we simply carry on as we are, we will be moving towards the tougher restrictions which we are seeing elsewhere in the country.”
East Suffolk Council
Leader of East Suffolk Council, Steve Gallant, asked his constituents to continue to keep to the government’s guidelines.
He said: “The communities of East Suffolk have been incredibly vigilant throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, however there has been a slight rise in numbers locally as we experience a nationwide increase in infection.
“At this stage, we are not being asked to follow any new or stricter guidelines than those currently in place – however we do want everyone to continue being as careful as possible and to ensure that numbers do not continue to increase in a way that may cause us greater concern.
“Please remember the ‘rule of six’ and avoid gathering in groups larger than six people.
“Also remember “hands, face, space”, so please maintain the best possible health and hygiene standards by washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask and maintaining a two-metre distance from people wherever possible.
“It is clear that we are not suffering the same level of infection as other parts of the country and I am very proud of the efforts made by everyone in East Suffolk.
“However, we simply cannot let our guard down and allow the virus to take a greater hold. We must not take any chances in our battle with Covid-19.”
West Suffolk Council
John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, looked to reassure residents that numbers remained lower than in other parts of the country.
He said: “Public Health England has put West and East Suffolk on a watch list due to the percentage rise in COVID-19 cases in our areas.
“I want to reassure you that numbers are lower than many places in the country due to our communities doing what they do best and looking out for one another.
“But at the moment the rise in cases is serious and steep which is why we all need to play our part in tackling the further spread of COVID-19.
“By following simple rules – sticking to the rule of six guidance, washing your hands, using a facemask and leaving space to stay safe - we all can help prevent the spread. If unsure, guidance can be found on the websites of the Government, Public Health England and the NHS. Every single one of us has it in our gift to help stop the spread and protect our loved ones and community.
“By simply spreading the word you can reduce the spread of COVID-19. Stick with it West Suffolk and carry on doing your bit to help keep us all, and yourselves, safe.”