How would Suffolk cope with a third wave of Covid?
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Suffolk is in a "better place" to handle spikes in coronavirus infections after prime minister Boris Johnson warned a third wave in Europe is likely to "wash up on our shores".
The reassurance from local MPs comes as infection rates continue to rise on the continent, while the significant declines seen across the county from the beginning of the month are now starting to slow.
In Ipswich, rates have continued to rise in the last fortnight, with the most recent government data covering the seven days to March 9 showing a rate of 75.2 cases per 100,000 – a figure similar to that seen in mid-October.
Public Health Suffolk has attributed the rise to increased testing, with both businesses and schools alike implementing their own regular testing regimes alongside increased testing in the community.
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said people in Suffolk "continue to recognise this is not over yet" and said it is clear increased infections do not come from those breaking lockdown rules.
Instead, they are likely to come from clusters identified by increased testing.
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Dr Poulter added he believes it is "fairly inevitable" that the country will see further spikes in infections, but said future measures could instead be driven by hospital admissions rather than community infections.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt added he is also "not surprised" to have seen an increase in case rates, but added there is no reason for alarm or to change the government's roadmap.
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He said: "It is not surprising to have seen the big drops we had seen revert slightly, but what has been encouraging is that although that has happened, we have continued to see deaths decline quite dramatically.
"At the moment, the prime minister has said there is no reason why we should have to depart from the roadmap.
"We know the costs of lockdown are so significant in terms of our mental health and in starving us of the things that make life worth living like spending time with our families.
"It is in all of our interests to see rates decline but we know the majority of those over 50 and the vulnerable have been offered their first jab and we are much better protected than we ever have been against this virus."
Dr Poulter added: "We are leading the country with the speed and uptake of our vaccine rollout, and that puts us in a much better place to ensure we get back to something more like normal in the next couple of months."
A Suffolk Public Health spokesperson said: “We are carrying out more and more regular, community testing across the county, so will pick up more positive cases in schools, businesses and the general community.
“With lower numbers of cases, week-on-week data may fluctuate slightly, however our teams are constantly monitoring the data for all areas of Suffolk, so that we can identify any potential areas of concern, with increased cases.
"We can then respond as quickly and proactively as possible to prevent further spread.
“But we must all keep working hard to stop the virus from spreading and bringing down the number of cases even further.
"Keep following the national hands, face, space guidance and get your vaccination as soon as you are offered it.
"Getting tested twice a week is also important for anyone who cannot work from home, and those in households and bubbles of pupils and staff in school, nursery or college.”