Explained - the 4 criteria for deciding June 21 Covid rule changes
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
The country is eagerly awaiting to see whether coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on June 21 - but what factors will determine the decision?
The June 21 date is the last in the government's roadmap out of lockdown and would see the vast majority of restrictions on social contact finally lifted.
If given the go-ahead, there would be no restrictions on people meeting indoors or outdoors.
But following the growth of the Delta variant, first seen in India, ministers are yet to confirm whether they will give the green light to this latest relaxation of the rules.
Throughout the roadmap, the government has used four criteria to decide whether to proceed to the next stage. These four factors will again be critical in deciding if the country moves out of restrictions.
Number of patients in hospital
The government will take into consideration how many people are in hospital with coronavirus before moving onto the next stage of the roadmap.
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As of June 1, there were no Covid patients in West Suffolk, Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.
The last reported hospital patient with Covid-19 was by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust (ESNEFT) on May 26, when one patient was admitted.
Hospital admissions peaked in January 2021 for both trusts, when 550 patients were recorded by ESNEFT on January 18 and 187 recorded by West Suffolk Hospital on January 14.
Number of people who have been fully vaccinated
Having two doses of the Covid vaccine gives you the highest level of protection from catching coronavirus.
Some areas in Suffolk have scored the highest in England for the percentage of people in each category to have received their first jab.
This area has also led the way in giving out both vaccines to those aged 16 and over.
The chance of becoming seriously ill if infected
The government will look at the emergence of different variants of coronavirus, to see whether those could result in a higher chance of people becoming seriously ill if infected.
However, Suffolk and north Essex have reported small numbers of Covid infections of late - even with the growth of the Delta variant in the rest of the country.
On June 4, only 18 cases were reported - compared to the peak on January 4, when 776 cases were reported.
However, even though the vaccine reduces the chance of you becoming really sick, you can still catch the infection.
The speed of rising infections
With the emergence of the Delta Covid variant, the government is keeping a close eye on the rise of infections.
The Delta variant has been described as "at least 40% more transmissible" by West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter believes the Delta variant could push back the final stage of the roadmap.
Dr Poulter said: "The Indian variant will, almost inevitably, become the dominant strain, given what we know so far.
"The key to this is getting as many people vaccinated - it will be the best thing we can do to protect everyone."
It was suggested last week by the Office for National Statistics that UK infections had risen by 60% in a single week.