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Hospitals prepared for increase in coronavirus cases, health bosses say

PUBLISHED: 18:44 14 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:44 14 October 2020

Suffolk and north Essex hospitals, including Ipswich Hospital, are prepared for a 'second surge' of coronavirus, health chiefs have said Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk and north Essex hospitals, including Ipswich Hospital, are prepared for a 'second surge' of coronavirus, health chiefs have said Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Suffolk and north Essex health bosses have said hospitals are well-prepared for the ‘second surge’ of coronavirus amid a rise in reported cases.

Bosses at West Suffolk Hospital have reassured patients they are prepared for a surge in coronavirus cases Picture: GREGG BROWNBosses at West Suffolk Hospital have reassured patients they are prepared for a surge in coronavirus cases Picture: GREGG BROWN

The number of Covid-19 cases across the region has begun to increase in recent weeks, though neither Suffolk or Essex have been placed under any extra restrictions.

No districts currently have more than 100 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 of the population - the threshold where more measures are introduced under the new three-tier lockdown system unveiled by the government this week.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which manages Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, said around 40,000 of the trust’s patients have been tested for Covid-19 since the outbreak began, of which 12,000 were found to be positive.

Mr Hulme also encouraged people to seek medical attention as usual and reassured residents that hospitals are not “closing down” to solely treat patients for coronavirus.

Nick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said preparations for the winter began in March Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNNick Hulme, chief executive of ESNEFT, said preparations for the winter began in March Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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He added: “We have been expecting a second surge for some time - we have been planning for this since March.

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“As we enter this phase we have a lot more knowledge of this virus.

The three tiers of Covid restrictions  Picture: ARCHANTThe three tiers of Covid restrictions Picture: ARCHANT

“When we went into the first surge, testing took up to seven days - but now it can only take a matter of hours. With quicker testing, we can move our patients into the correct spaces.”

Mr Hulme also called for Suffolk and Essex residents to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines, wash their hands and wear face masks to ensure neither county is placed under any harsher measures.

He said: “I think there’s clearly different areas of the country which require a different approach. But whether Suffolk and Essex move into a different tier is entirely up to us.

“Let’s do all we can as a community to stay in the lowest tier.”

Bosses at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has also confirmed its staff would be prepared if cases continue to rise.

A spokesman for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “If there was to be a second wave in west Suffolk, we know we have a workforce that has huge amounts of experience, flexibility and resilience and would be ready to provide care for residents that visit our hospital or need support in the community.”

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