East of England public health chiefs come together to urge caution from July 19th

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With more than 40% of people in the local region yet to be double vaccinated, council leaders and directors of public health are urging caution.

They have pointed to recent rises in infections in the younger age groups– which is beginning to lead to significant increases in people aged 60+ across our region. And they have re-iterated the steps that everyone needs to take to protect the most vulnerable.

“The key thing people can do to ‘play their part’ and help society to open up more is to make sure that they are double vaccinated as soon as they become eligible – in Suffolk we are particularly highlighting that a single jab is only half the job – and by getting vaccinated, and testing regularly we can protect those who are more vulnerable,“ said Stuart Keeble, Suffolk’s Director of Public Health

“As people begin to mix more with others, it is imperative that they keep a respectful distance from others, continue to rapid test regularly, getting a PCR test if they get a positive result or have symptoms. It’s also really important people isolate if they have symptoms, get a positive fast test result or are asked to by NHS Test and Trace to break the chain of infection,” said Jyoti Atri, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Director of Public Health

“The most important thing to recognise is that everyone’s circumstances are different and what feels comfortable to one person might not feel that way to another. What I want to emphasise is being kind and considerate to each other. We know that a number of residents are anxious about the lifting of restrictions coming into society and this is a particular issue for those who are, and have been shielding for much of the past 18 months,” said Jim McManus, Hertfordshire’s Director of Public Health and Vice President of the national Association of Directors of Public Health. 

Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, Dr Louise Smith, said: “We are in a third wave and are seeing around 200 cases a day. Even for younger people and those who have been vaccinated, Covid can still make you feel ill – and one in 10 of those who are infected can go on to get long Covid.”

In each part of our region there are positive examples which demonstrate where local businesses, public sector and voluntary organisations are coming together to support others to take positive choices to play their part and do the right thing to keep infection levels as low as possible over the summer.

“We know that many businesses and public sector organisations want to be as safe as possible for their staff and customers. I would therefore applaud large retailers like TK Maxx and Sainsbury’s, bus companies and the majority of GP surgeries or hospitals, who are taking the lead in our area, by making it normal and acceptable to continue to wear a mask in a variety of indoor settings. We will also be playing our part at the county council, whether that is at our wedding venues, supporting our staff working at our recycling centres or libraries,” said Morris Bright, Executive Member for Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council.” 

“I am delighted so many people aged 18 -24 and, in their households, have so far come forward to take a walk in PCR test in the centre of Cambridge. This is part of surge testing we have set up to identify cases in the younger age group, and to stop infections spreading ahead of restrictions lifting next week,” said Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council

“With the support of Government we are continuing to make sure that those who do get the infection can be supported to do the right thing and self isolate, and our enduring transmission pilot pioneered in Peterborough, with Fenland and South Holland, is supporting individuals who find it more difficult to do this,” said Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council. 

“Masks are not just about ourselves, they are about protecting others. If you have the virus – and you may well not realise that you have it – they can help prevent you from spreading it. There are many people in the community who may not be able to get vaccinated or have conditions that leave them immuno-supressed. The simple act of putting on a mask could go a long way towards making them feel at ease and safer,” said Councillor Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council

Norfolk County Council leader, Councillor Andrew Proctor, said: “There is no doubt we are in a better position than in the first and second waves, due to the success of the vaccination programme - but that does not mean we should drop our guard. The Prime Minister now wants us to exercise personal choice, which I totally support. Please keep taking precautions to help protect yourselves and others and to keep safe. I’ve already made these choices, to protect others – I hope you will do the same.”