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Half of care homes in Suffolk have had Covid outbreaks in last two weeks, according to health officials



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Half of Suffolk's care homes have reported a Covid-19 outbreak in the last 14 days, public health chiefs have said - but case rates among over 60s are falling.

Council bosses said the infection was now being driven among youngsters as 17 education establishments across the county are currently operating virtual learning.

Public Health director for Suffolk, Stuart Keeble, told Thursday morning's Health and Wellbeing Board meeting that case rates were falling in line with national trends, but warned an increase in the under 18s was possible as youngsters have been back at school for several weeks.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk. Picture: Suffolk County Council

He reported that 17 establishments - mostly nurseries or pre-schools and primaries - had 'some form of virtual learning or closure'.

Meanwhile, over 60s rates - which he said were a concern shortly after Christmas - have fallen, but confirmed that 50 per cent of care homes had reported an outbreak - two or more positive cases within a 14-day period.

"Week on week both nationally and locally we have been seeing around a 40 per cent reduction in the numbers of cases, and some of those biggest falls have been in the over 60s which from a risk perspective is clearly an important thing," he said.

Half of Suffolk's care homes have reported a Covid-19 outbreak in the last 14 days, public health chiefs have said - but case rates among over 60s are falling. Picture: iStock
Half of Suffolk's care homes have reported a Covid-19 outbreak in the last 14 days, public health chiefs have said - but case rates among over 60s are falling. Picture: iStock

"I think that is demonstrating the impact of boosters kicking in and doing the work that they need to do.

"The challenging side is that if you look at the incomplete data the reduction is starting to plateau and we may see an increase again.

"That is related to 0-10 year-olds. We are seeing a massive increase at the moment in primary age pupils and also starting to see a plateauing and probably an increase in 11-18s.

"The teachers and schools are doing a fantastic job to try and keep things going but we have 17 schools, mainly early years settings and primary school at the moment, that have some form of virtual teaching or closure at this point in time.

"The prioritisation in all our endeavours is to keep education going, so we will need to carry on watching that and our CYP [children and young people] team here are working closely with school sectors to try and help them do that."

Data from Suffolk County Council indicated there were 2,477 new Covid cases in those aged 18 and under in the week up to January 17, which was a significant increase on the 1,509 the week before.

It comes as mandatory face masks in classrooms ends, while the the rest of England's Plan B restrictions such as face masks in stores and vaccine passports are eased next week.

Mr Keeble said positive cases in intensive therapy units in hospitals was at its lowest since the summer, while inpatient numbers generally with the infection was plateauing and declining.

Infection rates in Suffolk as of Wednesday were 863 per 100,000, which is below both the East of England (883.8) and England (986.2) averages.