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Sheltered homes brought up to standard in seven days

Patrick Byrne

BBC News Online

Sheltered housing condemned as unsuitable for habitation last year has been brought up to scratch in seven days.

East Suffolk Council transformed the property in Avenue Mansions in Lowestoft to help accommodate vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Avenue Mansions
East Suffolk Council
Avenue Mansions is at the junction of Yarmouth Road and Royal Avenue

Eight flats were left empty because the water systems had been drained down, and the heating, electrical and fire detection systems had been decommissioned.

Richard Kerry, cabinet member for housing, said: "It was a huge challenge to get these flats to a standard where they could be brought back into use … and the seven-day turnaround is evidence of the effort that everyone involved put in to make it happen."

Key workers applauded once again

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

#ClapForOurCarers: People across the East of England pay tribute to key workers

People across the UK have taken part in a second "Clap for Carers" tribute, saluting NHS staff and other key workers dealing with coronavirus.

Delivery drivers, supermarket staff, care workers and bin collectors were among those honoured.

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East of England joins in with #ClapForOurCarers

#ClapForOurCarers: People across the East of England pay tribute to key workers
People across the UK have taken part in a second Clap For Our Carers tribute, saluting NHS staff and other key workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

Delivery drivers, supermarket staff, care workers and bin collectors were among those honoured by the nation with thousands across the East of England joining in the moment at 20:00 GMT on Thursday.

Households banged pots and pans, while others played the bagpipes to show their support.

A hundred hot meals delivered to paramedics

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

They say an army marches on its stomach, so a community group in Bedford has come forward to help feed staff working for the NHS.

Food being prepared
SGRS Bedford

The Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha in Bedford delievered 100 hot meals to members of the East of England Ambulance Service at its sites in Bedford and Kempston.

Food delivered to paramedic

The religious group has said it will continue "every day throughout this difficult period, in order to help support those who are tirelessly working in our NHS".

"This is a small token of our appreciation", it said.

Food being delievered to paramedics

COVID-19 deaths rise in the east

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

There were 63 more COVID-19 deaths announced by NHS England on Thursday for the east of England region.

Cases are listed by NHS Trust/Hospital.

  • Luton and Dunstable: 12 more deaths - (total 23)
  • Bedford: 11 (11)
  • Milton Keynes Hospital: 9 (22)
  • Princess Alexandra, Harlow: 5 (27)
  • Lister, Stevenage: 4 (16)
  • Essex Partnership Trust: 2 (4)
  • Kettering: 4 (9)
  • Southend: 3 (11)
  • Norfolk & Norwich: 3 (13)
  • Northampton: (11)
  • Basildon: 2 (25)
  • Queen Elizabeth, King’s Lynn: 2 (12)
  • Peterborough/Hinchingbrooke, Huntingdon: 1 (10)
  • Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge: 1 (6)
  • James Paget, Gorleston: 1 (6)
  • West Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds: 1 (5)

It's important to note these are the updated figures announced on a particular date and do not reflect when the death took place.

It brings the total number of deaths in the region to 227.

Total number of deaths across the UK stood at 2,921 according to Public Health England.

Good morning

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Welcome to Friday’s resumption of regular updates where we'll bring you regional news and information about the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you the latest until 18:00.

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email

Have a good evening and we are back on Friday morning

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Thank you for joining us today for our regular updates on the coronavirus pandemic in the East of England.

The team will be back on Friday morning at 08:00 to share more news with you from across the region.

See you then.

Council asks firms for personal protective equipment

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

A county council has launched an appeal for businesses to donate any unused personal protective equipment (PPE) for critical frontline staff working in care homes, children's homes and other addresses.

Suffolk County Council needs:

  • Fluid repellent face masks
  • Nitrile non powdered disposable gloves
  • Disposable aprons
  • Disposable eye protection/splash goggles
  • Sanitiser gel

The authority has been working with experts to source these materials from across the UK and globally.

Volunteers are packing and sending 4,000 PPE kits, which will be issued to teams this week. However, more are still needed.

Council leader Matthew Hicks, said: "We would be extremely grateful to any businesses who could provide us with these items which will help us to stop the spread of Covid-19 in our county."

Appeal to name kittens born in lockdown

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

The RSPCA is appealing for help to name four kittens that were born 24 hours after the prime minister announced a lockdown.

Puma was rescued from a multi-cat household and gave birth with the help of foster carer and RSPCA animal welfare manager Chloe Shorten.

RSPCA kittens

Staff at the Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk branch have gathered together a list of potential names and are asking people to vote for their favourite on their Facebook page.

The options are:

  • Ash, Coal, Cinder, Ember
  • Neve, Harry, Sarah and Edward
  • Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, Niobe
  • Cordelia, Viola, Tybalt and Mercutio
Puma and her kittens

Paint the whole world with a rainbow

BBC Radio Suffolk

Rainbows beautifully drawn by key workers' children are set to be placed in the windows of police and ambulance drivers' vehicles.

The works of art were made by pupils at Place Farm Primary Academy in Haverhill, Suffolk.

Crews working for the East of England Ambulance Service said they were "grateful for the kind messages".

Photo of children with a rainbow
Haverhill Police

Coronavirus cases continue to rise in East

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

The number of people infected by the coronavirus continues to rise.

Public Health England released the latest figures last night, but they are only from hospital tests and are a few days behind.

They are as follows:

  • Hertfordshire - 480
  • Buckinghamshire - 195
  • Norfolk - 180
  • Northamptonshire - 187
  • Cambridgeshire - 141
  • Peterborough - 36
  • Suffolk - 125
  • Milton Keynes - 117
  • Central Bedfordshire - 81
  • Luton - 91
  • Bedford Borough Council - 60
  • Essex - 420
  • Southend-on-Sea - 44
  • Thurrock - 62

Good morning

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

Thank you for joining us this morning as we continue our regular updates about the coronavirus pandemic.

The team will be here sharing news from the East of England until 18:00.

Rickshaw volunteers in Bury St Edmunds deliver supplies to those in isolation
Volunteer rickshaw riders are bringing a "smile" to people self-isolating by dropping off supplies.

Groups in Suffolk which can offer help and support

There are plenty of groups in Suffolk ready to offer a helping hand or a friendly ear.

Here’s our round-up of organisations that can offer you support during this crisis:

  • Home But Not Alone Volunteer App: Suffolk County Council has launched a free app, called Tribe Volunteer, and phone line - 0800 876 6926 - to connect volunteers with those needing help. The number operates 09:00 to 17:00, seven days a week
  • Age UK Suffolk: 01473 357070/01473 351234
  • Community Action Suffolk: For information for volunteers and communities contact 01473 345400
  • Suffolk MIND: Help available for emotional needs and mental health on 0300 111 6000
  • Domestic Abuse: Call 0808 2000247 if you don't feel safe
  • Samaritans: 116 123 or
  • Alzheimer’s Research UK: If you, or someone you care for, needs support and information call the dementia info line on 0300 111 5 111
  • Suffolk Trading Standards: 0808 223 1133 or go to its Facebook page

Coronavirus deaths rise in the East

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

The number of people who have died from coronavirus continues to rise in the East of England.

Last night, Public Health England announced the statistics for 31 March at the region's hospital trusts:

  • Basildon - 10 more deaths
  • Luton & Dunstable - 1
  • East & North Herts - 5
  • Norfolk & Norwich - 2
  • Northampton - 2
  • Southend - 3
  • Queen Elizabeth, King's Lynn - 3
  • James Paget, Gorleston - 2
  • Addenbrooke's, Cambridge - 2
  • Essex partnership (mental health inpatient) - 1
  • West Herts Hospitals - 4
  • Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury - 2
  • Wycombe Hospital - 3

If a hospital trust is not listed it means no deaths were recorded there on Tuesday.

The total number of confirmed (tested) regional cases now stands at 1,945.

Across the UK, the death toll stands at 1,789.

Mall sends 'appreciation package' to ambulance crew

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

The Mall in Luton has sent an "appreciation package" to ambulance workers in the town.

The shopping centre tweeted that it wanted to thank crews for "all their hard work" so sent a package "full of tasty treats".

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Good morning

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live page where we'll bring you regular regional updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you the latest news from the East of England until 18:00.

Coronavirus: Ipswich woman's garden run raises hundreds for charity
Fiona Wilson was determined to not let the coronavirus lockdown stop her raising money for charity.

What's in the papers in Suffolk?

  • Suffolk residents pay tribute to hard-working bin men working through virus pandemic, the East Anglian Daily Times reports
  • The Ipswich Star has spoken to a couple who hosted 3,000 people in their virtual fancy dress party at home
  • Markets across west Suffolk will be closed from today, the Bury Free Press has reported

Suffolk schools to stay open during Easter break

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

Schools across Suffolk will remain open during the Easter holidays for vulnerable pupils and children of key workers, the county council said.

Schools will have broken up by the end of this week.

The council has advised key workers who are able to keep their children at home to do so in order to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

A helpline has been set up for parents to call if their usual school is not open. Parents and guardians can call 01473 263985 on weekdays between 08:00 and 17:00.

School children
Getty Images

Councillor Mary Evans, cabinet member for children’s services, said: "Once again I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone across the education sector.

"We are all working together to identify the best solutions for all pupils, especially the most vulnerable."

East Suffolk council suspends parking charges

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News Online

Felixstowe Leisure Centre and car park
Felixstowe Leisure Centre and car park

East Suffolk Council has suspended charges in all of its car parks.

The local authority said it was "to help support our local key workers and community volunteers during the COVID-19 outbreak".

Councillor Norman Brooks, cabinet member for transport, said: "As well as supporting our wider communities throughout this crisis, our priority must be to make life as simple as possible for the frontline key workers and volunteers and we hope that this small step can make a difference.

"Additionally, this move will enable us to redeploy some of our operational staff to other services which are currently in great demand."

Coronavirus cases continue to rise

The number of coronavirus cases for the east of England were released by Public Health England on Monday evening.

Here is latest breakdown confirmed from hospital tests:.

  • Bedford Borough 34
  • Cambridgeshire 109
  • Central Bedfordshire 60
  • Essex 301
  • Hertfordshire 339
  • Luton 69
  • Milton Keynes 94
  • Norfolk 133
  • Northamptonshire 153
  • Peterborough 24
  • Suffolk 100
  • Southend 31
  • Thurrock 41

Former BBC radio presenter dies with coronavirus

John Hood with award
John Hood won an award for his rescue of four teenage girls in 2016

John Hood's partner Jayne Lindill says his friends and family are "heartbroken" by his death.

John Hood with award

Former BBC radio presenter dies with coronavirus

John Hood's former partner Jayne Lindill says his friends and family are "heartbroken" by his death.

Read more

What the papers are saying in Suffolk

Here's how the papers in Suffolk are reporting the coronavirus pandemic

  • The East Anglian Daily Times reports the first meals from acting couple Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory’s new scheme are due to be served up, as they aim to feed NHS staff fighting coronavirus
  • There are scenes of silent streets in Ipswich and Felixstowe in the Ipswich Star, as people obey the coronavirus lockdown message
  • And the Suffolk Free Press reports on businesses in the Sudbury area providing a vital lifeline

Co-op to stop accepting loyalty card and handing out charity tokens

The East of England Co-operative have announced a series of changes to how they operate their food stores to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The group, based in Ipswich and with stores across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk said it would be no longer accepting member reward cards to avoid handling them, but advised customers to keep receipts to add the points at a later date.

Stores will also no longer hand out green tokens, which go in the charity-of-your-choice boxes.

East of England Co-operative
EoE Co-op

In line with many other supermarket the Co-op will also be installing screens at checkouts and have signs on the floor to keep shoppers 2m (6ft 6in) apart.

Cheers all round as the East says thanks to NHS

Coronavirus: Cheers all round as the East says thanks to NHS
There was clapping, cheering, pots clanging and car horns honking as people across the East of England gave their thanks to the NHS.

Many people took part in the social media campaign on Thursday night, where people across the UK applauded the work of the health service treating coronavirus patients.

'Thank you NHS'

Oscar's been using his time off to create a masterpiece thanking the NHS for all their hard work.

The ambulance service were definitely impressed by his artistic talent.

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Daughter thanks public for staying at home and 'keeping Mummy safe'

The daughter of a NHS worker in Suffolk has posted a video on social media to thank people for staying at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

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The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust runs the hospital in Bury St Edmunds and community services.

Six more coronavirus deaths reported in East of England

Nikki Fox

BBC Look East

Six more deaths from coronavirus were recorded in the BBC East region on Thursday evening.

Thee people died in hospitals run by East and North Herts NHS Trust and three at Princess Alexandra in Harlow.

The UK death date rose to more than 550 as of yesterday evening.

Here are the latest numbers of positive cases (not deaths) recorded in our region:

  • Norfolk 51 (a rise of 6 on previous day)
  • Suffolk 42 (up 7)
  • Peterborough 10 (up 1)
  • Cambridgeshire 47 (up 6)
  • Northamptonshire 64 (up 21)
  • Bedford 10 (up 3)
  • Central Bedfordshire 28 (up 4)
  • Milton Keynes 38 (up 9)
  • Buckinghamshire 66 (up 7)
  • Luton 30 (up 1)
  • Hertfordshire 170 (up 23)
  • Essex 130 (up 42)
  • Southend12 (up 3)
  • Thurrock 20 (up 5)

These figures will not include people have show symptoms, but have not been tested.

Further figures can be found at Public Health England.

Clap for our carers: UK pays tribute to NHS and care workers

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Last night, people around the UK took part in a "Clap for our Carers" tribute, saluting NHS and care workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

At 20:00 GMT, well-wishers flocked to their balconies, windows, front doors and gardens to applaud.

Emergency services themselves also took part as this "amazing show of support" outside Ipswich Hospital reflects.

View more on twitter

Coronavirus updates - the latest

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live updates page where you can keep up with all the regional news on the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you all the latest developments and news from the East of England until 18:00 GMT.

Clap for our Carers

Set your alarms for 20:00 this evening when a big round of applause is planned to thank all the NHS staff working tirelessly to keep us safe.

If you want to take part all you need do is put your hands together from your windows and doors.

View more on twitter

Hospital appointments go online

Alex Pope

BBC News

We are all finding new ways to work at the moment, and that includes staff working within the NHS.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust is using a new video system so appointments can be made online.

I am a little jealous as Claire's headset looks better than mine.

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Staff shortages could affect fruit and veg from the East

Pete Cooper

BBC News

The Country Land and Business Association has warned of staff shortages in the farming sector across the East of England due to coronavirus.

If farmers could not find the workers they needed, it could lead to a shortage of fruit and vegetables, it said.

PA Media

Cath Crowther from the association said: "There are staff shortages because of travel restrictions and illness which could impact on fruit and vegetable supply going forward."

She also said that those farms that had diversified into leisure and tourism were also suffering, and that those with cafes were trying to "redirect" their supplies.

Visiting suspended at Essex and Suffolk hospitals

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

The way people can visit loved ones is changing at most hospitals.

East Suffolk and North East Essex Foundation Trust has said that visiting has been suspended at Colchester, Ipswich, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe hospitals, and at Bluebird Lodge in Ipswich.

Chief executive Nick Hulme said you could only visit if seeing someone receiving end-of-life care; you are a birthing partner or a parent or appropriate adult visiting your child.

Ipswich Hospital
East Suffolk and North East Essex Foundation Trust

“Our primary concern is to keep our patients and our staff safe," he said.

"Thank to you everyone in our communities for their continuing support at this very difficult time."

Ambulance trust 'could not be prouder' of staff and volunteers

East of England Ambulance NHS Trust has praised on Twitter the "incredible" work its staff and volunteers are doing across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The trust said it wanted to "dedicate #ThankYouThursday" to all those "working incredibly hard around the clock to make sure that our patients remain safe and get help when they need it the most. We couldn't be prouder to call you #TeamEEAST."

Ambulance staff
East of England Ambulance Service

Council donates thousands to Suffolk food banks

Food banks across Suffolk re to receive a share of £60,000 to ensure they're stocked with much-needed supplies.

This money, donated by Suffolk County Council, will let them restock directly with the supermarkets and wholesalers, the council said.

Paul West, cabinet member for communities, said: "It is now more important than ever to look after those most in need in our neighbourhoods."


Suffolk residents told to 'compost at home'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

People living in Suffolk have been urged not to dispose of garden waste in black bins, despite their garden waste collection services being suspended.

So far Ipswich, Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils have all suspended garden waste bin collections until further notice, so that crews can focus on collecting black bins and recyclable rubbish. East and West Suffolk councils are still running garden waste services.

However, recycling centres closed to the public on Tuesday, meaning the option of clearing garden waste there is no longer available.

A Babergh and Mid Suffolk spokeswoman said: “For those who aren’t able to compost, we kindly ask that they temporarily store it in their garden instead of placing it in the general waste bin."

Coronavirus updates - the latest

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live updates page where you can keep up with all the regional news on the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you all the latest developments and news from the East of England until 18:00 GMT.

New help group called 'Home But Not Alone'

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

People wanting to volunteer to help people during the coronavirus pandemic can join a new service set up by Suffolk councils, police, health bodies and charities brought together as the Collaborative Communities Board.

The new service, called Home But Not Alone, is appealing to volunteers, charities, town and parish councils, community and religious groups who can all log their offers of support on an app.

Chrissie Geeson
Chrissie Geeson

People who need help can phone to request support and as offers and requests grow, they will be matched so help can be given where it's most needed.

This support could include delivering groceries, medication or essential household goods, while social distancing of course.

Chrissie Geeson, the board's chairwoman, said: "It has been incredibly heartening to have so many people volunteer to help others.

"In villages and towns across Suffolk, people have taken it upon themselves to mobilise a small army of volunteers."

The free app, called Tribe Volunteer, can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The telephone number for those in genuine need of help is freephone 0800 876 6926.

Inquests postponed or suspended due to crisis

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Some coroner's courts are responding to the coronavirus crisis with inquests in Northamptonshire suspended until September.

Coroner Anne Pember said: "In view of the present COVID-19 situation it is with regret that I need to inform you that all inquests listed between now and 1 September have been suspended until further notice."I will review the situation on 31 July."

All inquests due to be heard at Buckinghamshire Coroner's Court until Monday, 27 April have been postponed and will be rescheduled.

In Cambridgeshire, the coroner and inquests website warns that "during these unprecedented times, hearings may change at short notice".

People are asked to check the website the evening before a hearing is scheduled, for the most up to date information.

Suffolk County Council said: “Due to the fast-changing situation in respect of COVID-19 the Coroner’s Service is closely monitoring the government advice and considering any impact this might have.

But no announcements have been made by the coroners in Bedfordshire, Essex, Norfolk or Hertfordshire.

Shake It Off to lift our spirits

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Everyone needs their spirits lifting at the moment, so St John Ambulance cadets in the East of England have come up with a "banging" idea to make us feel a little bit better.

Luke Stevenson, and others, want fellow cadets and St John Ambulance members to make up dance moves.

They are putting together a video to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off - but need some help.

They want to show that everyone is "standing together" and that some "fun" can still be had.

So send your best moves via email - - or via Twitter using #SJADanceForEast.

Just make sure you never miss a beat especially if you are lightning on your feet!

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