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Suffolk's public health boss on coronavirus crisis: 'We need to support each other'




Suffolk’s director of public health has urged communities to rally together to support one another during the coronavirus crisis – and has issued guidance on how those who are social distancing can protect their mental health.

In an interview with the Bury Free Press, Stuart Keeble said the key to coping through the pandemic was ‘how we support each other’ – particularly those aged over 70 who may have to self isolate for an extended period of time.

“Around West Suffolk and Bury, the communities are really strong,” he said. “There are lots of groups, Facebook groups and people putting cards through people’s doors.

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health

“The more we can do that, do that safely, you can drop some shopping off, ring the bell and step back two metres and still talk to somebody. People can still see each other, we just need to make sure there’s a distance.

“From a public sector perspective, we’re trying to look at how can we as part of the Suffolk Resilience Forum support communities.”

Mr Keeble also ran through several measures to help people support their mental health and wellbeing.

“We need to follow the news but there’s a risk if you spend all your time on social media
and a 24 news channel it can become overwhelming,” he said.

“It’s about taking breaks from watching TV but doing things they enjoy doing whether that’s reading, listening to music, still moving about.

“We talk about social distancing but in some ways it’s physical distancing. We can still talk to people and connect.”

On what to do to protect ourselves and others, Mr Keeble said: “Hand hygiene is still one of the most effective things we can be doing – washing our hands regularly.”

He said those with symptoms – a regular cough or a temperature – who live on their own should self isolate for seven days and those who live with others for 14 days to ‘protect the most vulnerable’.

Asked why official figures don’t specify exact locations of cases, Mr Keeble said they had to protect the anonymity of patients and ‘we all need to be acting in a way that recognises the virus is around a number of different places among a number of different people’.


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