Warning of more deaths as Suffolk passes 1,000 coronavirus fatalities
Suffolk has crossed a grim milestone today as latest data has shown 1,000 people have lost their lives to coronavirus in the county - with a warning of more deaths to come.
The number of deaths from the disease, which exploded in March last year, is equivalent to the entire population of Southwold, Boxford, or Fornham St Martin.
Today Stuart Keeble, director of public health in the county, has warned there would be further deaths and urged residents to play their part in keeping infections down by staying at home.
"Sadly, there will be further deaths, but every single person has the power to bring this number down with immediate effect, to reduce the pressure on our hospitals and to stop people from becoming ill with this deadly disease," he said.
“This new variant is far more infectious, it doesn’t recognise that you follow the rules most of the time, it only takes one opportunity.
“The message could not be clearer: Stay at home. Save lives."
And he added: “The lockdown measures are in place because the new strain of the virus is spreading more easily between people. If everyone limits their interaction with each other, we will not be giving the virus the opportunity to affect more people."
The latest fatality statistics come from looking at deaths in hospitals serving the county where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate. Some 774 Suffolk residents have died with coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to the latest data.
Suffolk, like many places across the county, is now facing into the abyss as hospitals are put under pressure and infection rates climb.
In the seven days to January 5 the county has seen 3,979 confirmed cases of the virus - a rise of almost 50 per cent. Suffolk's rate of infection is average to the rate across England.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, today said the country is at the 'most perilous moment' of the pandemic.
But he offered light at the end of the tunnel, and said there had been more than two million shots of the potentially life-saving vaccine administered already.
This means 3.45 shots per 100 people have been given out, putting the UK ahead of the European Union but far behind Israel in terms of the percentage of people who have had the jab.
Mr Johnson said the aim of injecting 15 million people with their first dose by mid-February is 'massively stretching' but an 'achievable target'.
"We cannot be complacent," he said. "The worst thing now would be for us to allow the success in rolling out a vaccine programme to breed any kind of complacency about the state of the pandemic."
The political pressure on the government to get the vaccine programme right is huge. Today Kier Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, attacked the government for 'having been found wanting at every turn' and accused Mr Johnson of being 'indecisive' and acting 'too slow' over lockdown measures.
Later today Matt Hancock, the MP for West Suffolk, is set to speak from Downing Street setting out how the vaccine programme will meet the target the government has set, and how it will be able to offer every adult their first dose by autumn.