What are Covid rates in over-60s as tiers decision nears?
- Credit: PA
The rate of Covid infections in people aged 60 or over has overtaken the England average in one part of Norfolk, as the virus moves from young people to older populations.
With less than a week to go until people in Norfolk and Suffolk find out what restrictions they will face in the run-up to Christmas, infection rates in older age groups are rising in south Norfolk.
But Norfolk County Council’s public health team has stressed that while people should remain vigilant, this is a pattern being repeated across the country - the virus spreading first among the young, then moving to an older population.
A more concerning development would be a consistent pattern of high rates among the elderly over several weeks, they say.
Other factors considered will be overall infection rates, with areas showing a sustained fall more likely to get into Tier 1 – the tier with the least restrictions.
Data for the whole of Norfolk up to December 5 shows infection rates in people aged 60 or over was comfortably below the 100 mark, at 76.1 per 100,000. Rates among people aged up to 59 were higher, at 114.
In Suffolk rates of infection among older people were higher than in Norfolk, but also remained relatively low at 81.1. Officials in Suffolk will be worried that the rate of infection among younger people – 78.4 per 100,000 – was lower than it is among older people but, again, the numbers remained relatively low.
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A closer look at the latest figures on local authority rates of infection up to December 5 reveals areas of greater concern in both counties.
South Norfolk’s rate of infection among older people was 126.7 per 100,000. That figure gave the area a higher infection rate among people aged 60 or over than the England average – which was 114 per 100,000 on the same date.
No other area in Norfolk had a rate of infection in that age bracket higher than 100, though Great Yarmouth’s was close on 94.5. Yarmouth also had the highest infections in other age groups, at 158.8 per 100,000.
Norwich saw the lowest rate of infections in the older age groups, at 43.9 per 100,000, though its rate of infections in other age groups was almost as high at Yarmouth’s, at 141.3.
In Suffolk, Ipswich’s rate of 243.7 per 100,000 for people aged 60 or over was by far the highest of its local authority areas.
Latest hospital figures up to December 3 in Norfolk also show increased activity, with the number of beds and ventilator beds occupied by virus patients on an upward trend in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. A downwards trend at the James Paget University hospital could be the calm before the storm given the high rate of infections recorded in Yarmouth.
All three hospitals have also shown an increase in the number of non-Covid-19 beds occupied, as the NHS winter seasons grinds into gear.
The government is set to update the Covid tiers in England on Wednesday, December 16.