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‘We must act now’ - Suffolk health chief on rising infection rates

PUBLISHED: 17:37 28 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:38 29 October 2020

The coronavirus infection rate in Ipswich and West Suffolk has risen Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The coronavirus infection rate in Ipswich and West Suffolk has risen Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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People in Ipswich and West Suffolk have been urged to “act now” to halt rising Covid-19 infection rates in their neighbourhoods.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILStuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

The two districts have the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the county, with both reporting around 100 cases per 100,000 of the population.

A coronavirus alert has been issued in Moreton Hall in Bury St Edmunds after 32 cases were reported in a week, putting the infection rate at 400.3 per 100,000 people - making it the worst-affected neighbourhood in Suffolk.

In Ipswich, there have been 17 cases confirmed in Whitehouse and 16 in Broke Hall in the same timeframe.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk, said: “More people are catching Covid-19 across Suffolk, but Ipswich and West Suffolk are definitely seeing the steepest and quickest rises right now.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the surge in infections is a concern but allayed fears Suffolk could be placed under harsher measures Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONSIpswich MP Tom Hunt said the surge in infections is a concern but allayed fears Suffolk could be placed under harsher measures Picture: HOUSE OF COMMONS

“There will be many reasons, but the data shows that by far the most common way that people spread Covid-19 is in their homes.

MORE: Covid rates continue to rise in most areas of Suffolk

“There are steps we can all take, just like those that Suffolk people have been doing so well throughout the pandemic.

“This must be seen as a wake-up call to everyone. If we keep following the guidance as we have been, we will beat Covid-19. But we must act now.”

Andy Walker, head of policy at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, warned of the impact further restrictions would have on businesses Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBER OF COMMERCEAndy Walker, head of policy at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, warned of the impact further restrictions would have on businesses Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich, said the rise in cases in his constituency was a “cause for concern” but said the town’s overall infection rate remains low when compared to the rest of the country.

He said: “There has been a significant amount of cases, which none of us want to see. This hammers home the fact that we need to be following social distancing.

“We are still a long way below the national average and some of the other areas that are teetering on tier 2.

“I don’t think we can be in a position of looking at tier 2 - we’re a long way off that.

“We have to monitor the situation on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis.”

Business leaders have warned of the impact harsher measures would have on firms and called for support if Suffolk is placed in a higher tier.

Andy Walker, head of policy at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “An increase in the infection rate was always likely as we head towards the winter months, and a move to tier 2 would certainly impact on demand in particular sectors, most noticeably hospitality, tourism, leisure and perhaps some retail.

“It is therefore imperative that if a move to tier 2 does occur, then businesses are given plenty of time to prepare and additional financial support is provided.

“We are also urging our MPs and Government to work on an exit strategy to ensure a way out of the pandemic and to reduce virus cases in the short-term, not least so businesses can survive and families can spend Christmas together.”

MORE: Rise in household Covid transmissions in Bury St Edmunds estate is ‘red flag’, warns mayor


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