There are still nearly 150 people in hospitals across Suffolk and north Essex suffering from Covid-19, according to the latest data.

Suffolk’s public health director Stuart Keeble has urged people to isolate if they test positive with the virus, despite legal requirements for that ending.

Figures for March 9 recorded 144 people in total across Ipswich, West Suffolk, James Paget and Colchester hospitals with Covid-19, and just two people were in intensive care units.

Mr Keeble said: “Nationally they have seen a slight increase in the numbers, and we have seen that as well locally, but the two points to make is that, one, we only have two people in ITU for Covid which is some of the lowest levels we have had for a very long while, and secondly about 56% of patients regionally in hospital are in with Covid rather than for Covid.

"It might be that somebody comes in for a hip operation or has a fall, and it is picked up at that point.

“This will be an important barometer for the continued effectiveness of vaccines going forward and whether we see waning and new variants."

The Government relaxed legal restrictions around isolation requirements on February 24, but has still advised people to isolate if they test positive.

Mr Keeble reiterated that plea, and said people should continue to wash hands regularly and wear face masks in busy enclosed spaces.

It is understood around one in 30 people are currently testing positive with Covid-19.

Mr Keeble said: "Although we are no longer required to legally self isolate if we have Covid, we do still strongly recommend to.

“I think in general people are sensible around that and I think there is something maybe in this country with quite high levels of presenteeism.

“When people have got respiratory illnesses hopefully workplaces and residents understand the importance of, where possible, trying to stay at home during that period.

“As we go forward people are still encouraged to stay at home if they have got symptoms and are unwell, and that will hold us in good stead as we come through the summer and into next winter.”