Suffolk's covid concerns increase for peninsula care homes and over 60s

By Derek Davis

7th Jan 2022 | Local News

The increase in Covid-19 among over 60s is the biggest area of concern, Suffolk's public health chief has said.

And warnings have been issued that the level of community infection means they cannot keep the virus out of care homes, including those on the Shotley peninsula that have suffered over the past 18 months.

Suffolk's current Covid-19 infection rate is at at 1,360.7 per 100,000 people amid the wave of the Omicron variant. According to data, positive cases from PCR tests has shown an average of 25% compared to around 5% before the latest wave.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble told Thursday morning's meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board that the infection had worked its way through from youngsters, through to parent-age adults and now in over 60s.

"The key bit for me which is the area of concern is the increase in the over 60s rate," he told health, council and police leaders.

"That has more than doubled in the last week, and that makes sense from both the background spread but also the mixing we saw over Christmas and New Year.

"That contains a higher proportion that may be more vulnerable where the immunity from the vaccine may not be quite as effective due to underlying health conditions, and that will likely start to play through in the forthcoming weeks, both with regards to hospitalisations and deaths."

He stressed the county was "not in the same place" as last winter but would still be "extremely challenging".

According to figures, case rates among those aged 90 and upwards had tripled between Christmas Day and December 30.

Mr Keeble also warned the increased rate in over 60s is also impacting on care homes.

The council has reported that around a quarter of cases among those aged 60 and above are in care homes, with outbreaks being reported in at least 83 care settings – most of those being care homes.

"It is challenging out there for the care sector," Mr Keeble said. "We have seen a significant increase in care homes over the last month. About 300 staff are infected, but if we think about the background spread that shouldn't be surprising.

"But what is interesting is about 25% of cases in over 60s are in care homes. When we see that level of background spread in the community, it is not possible to keep it out of care homes, but that is where we hope the vaccines will come in play, the boosters, the protection, but at the same time it is challenging out there at the moment."

People have been urged to get their booster jabs as soon as they can, and for those who haven't had any vaccine at all to get their first doses.

In addition, guidance around regular hand-washing, ventilating indoor spaces, wearing face masks and social distancing where groups of people are gathering remain important to help reduce the spread of infection.

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