Public health bosses in Suffolk have welcomed the Government’s commitment to provide extra resources to help fight COVID-19 in the county.
It comes as pressure on the county’s hospitals is reaching critical levels due to more people needing treatment - and some of the highest rates of infection in the country.
A request for additional support was submitted earlier this week by Public Health Suffolk - on behalf of public sector partners - and is intended to secure in additional support, funding and resources to help the NHS avoid unsustainable pressure. The additional support will include:
- Support for the vaccination efforts by extending opening hours and creating pop up vaccination clinic within our communities
- Help to coordinate on the ground door knocking campaigns
- Help to reduce transmission in schools with increased testing and additional temporary powers
- Funding for COVID-19 awareness raising communications and advertising.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, chair Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board and leader of Suffolk County Council, said:
“I very much welcome this additional help and funding from the Government. It will support our already considerable efforts to get more people vaccinated and to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Suffolk.
“Throughout the pandemic, Suffolk has been effective at keeping our COVID rates low compared to other parts of the country. This is because we have worked hard and been proactive at every stage.
“The situation facing Suffolk now calls for the same forward-thinking and preventative work to protect residents, businesses and our way of life.
“As we learn to live with COVID-19, it will be actions such as this that prevent COVID from having an even worse impact and, ultimately, holding back our recovery.”
From Monday 1 November, Suffolk will therefore become an ‘enhanced response area’ (ERA) for up to five weeks. This approach has already been used in other parts of the country to help reduce the rate of COVID-19 transmission within the community and is also being taken in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough at the same time.
To help reduce the spread, residents in Suffolk are now being encouraged to:
- Get fully vaccinated and your booster when it’s due
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- Always wear a face covering in crowded areas
- Ventilate indoor spaces
- Get tested regularly and stay at home if you feel unwell
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk’s director of public health, said:
“Every day since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in Suffolk and taking action to protect people and save lives.
“That work hasn’t stopped, even when rates of infection slowed during the summer.
“We have a new challenge now – high infection rates and continuing hospitalisations at exactly the same time that NHS is trying to catch up on delayed treatments for millions of people.
“That is why, after assessing all the data and options available to us, we have made this bid for extra help from central Government. We want to get ahead and stop COVID before our NHS reaches the point of no return.”
It’s the latest move to slow the spread of virus which has made a particular impact among Suffolk’s school age children and, consequently, their parents and grandparents. Earlier this month, additional measures, including siblings of children with COVID self-isolating, restrictions on visits to schools and older children and adults wearing face masks, were reintroduced. The face mask policy starts on Monday 1 November.
Any such support does not mean any additional restrictions on people’s movements or actions. It is not a lockdown or like the tiering system that was trialled in England in 2020. Instead, it will boost the county’s ability to raise awareness, tackle outbreaks and encourage people to get vaccinated.