'Protect yourselves, your families and the NHS by complying with Tier 4 rules', officials urge Suffolk's residents ahead of New Year weekend
Suffolk is at a critical point in the fight against Covid-19 – that's the message from the county's officials as they urge people to comply with the restrictions over the New Year weekend.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum said it was 'now more important than ever' to follow the rules in place in Suffolk – which is currently in Tier 4 – in order to support NHS services which are under 'significant strain'.
It comes as the latest figures show that, as of December 30, there are 327 people being treated for Covid-19 in Suffolk's hospitals, compared to 277 at the same point the previous week – an increase of 18 per cent.
The Suffolk Resilience Forum, which comprises local authorities, police, health and supporting agencies, is reminding residents to continue playing their part to drive down infection levels.
The forum is encouraging residents to see the New Year in safely at home with their own household or support bubble, and also continue to follow the rules in 2021.
Rachel Kearton, Suffolk's deputy chief constable and Covid-19 response lead for the Suffolk Resilience Forum, said: "Suffolk is at a critical point in the fight against Covid-19.
“We urge people to abide by the Tier 4 restrictions in order to do all they can to protect themselves, their families and the NHS.
“This week we have all seen the reports about the pressures hospitals, doctors, nurses and staff are under. They need us all to be responsible and to do the right thing.
"We should all stay local, work from home where possible, and only go out for essential journeys.
“From a policing perspective officers will continue to engage, educate and explain the restrictions to people who mistakenly contravene them. However, where there is a blatant disregard for the regulations we will enforce the law.”
The forum added that at this point, the average number of weekly cases per 100,000 people in Suffolk is 261.3 – a 32 per cent increase from December 23.
Suffolk is seeing an average of 370 new cases a day, with current predictions that cases could double by mid-January to reach 400 cases per 100,000.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said while the new vaccines bring reasons to be hopeful for 2021, infection rates in Suffolk are at 'unprecedented levels'.
He added that there is currently growing demand on the county's hospitals and social care settings.
“The steps we take now are critical," Mr Hicks said.
"Suffolk needs you to play your part and do all we can to keep ourselves and our friends, family and neighbours safe.”
The main advice remains 'hands, face, space' – washing your hands regularly, covering your face in enclosed spaces and social distancing from anyone you do not live with or who isn’t in your support bubble is vital.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms, such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you must self-isolate straight away and get a test. Continue to isolate if you test positive or are told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Neill Moloney, deputy chief executive at East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation NHS Trust, said: “Wave two of this pandemic has once again seen a fall in people accessing NHS services for a range of conditions that are not related to coronavirus.
“If you have symptoms that indicate serious conditions, please go to hospital as normal.
"If you are not seriously unwell please consider alternatives such as GPs, contacting NHS 111 or visiting your pharmacist.
"Accessing services in this way will allow us to work in the most effective way possible for the communities we serve.”
Under Tier 4:
- People cannot leave their homes unless there is a reasonable excuse
- People cannot meet others indoors unless part of the same household or support bubble
- Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household
- Those who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable should not go to work and should limit time outside of their homes
- Residents must not stay overnight away from home and cannot travel abroad