'What we do now is critical' - Plea to Norfolk people to halt spread over new year holiday

Norfolk in Tier 2

People in Norfolk have been urged to do their bit to stop the spread of coronavirus this New Year's Eve. - Credit: PA

Do your bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

That is the message from police, council leaders and health bosses as we near the end of 2020 on New Year's Eve - normally one of the biggest party nights of the year.

Communities across Norfolk are being reminded that staying at home over the New Year bank holiday weekend and beyond is now more important than ever to support local NHS services facing significant challenges.

With Covid-19 spreading fast and cases at record levels both in Norfolk and across the country, the Norfolk Resilience Forum (NRF) is urging residents to continue playing their part in following the Tier 4 rules in order to ease the pressure on local health services.

The NRF, which is the multi-agency group comprising Norfolk’s local authorities, police, health and supporting agencies, is encouraging everyone to see in the New Year safely at home with their own household or support bubble and wherever possible don’t travel outside your local area.

The latest figures show that there are 430 people being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals across Norfolk and Waveney compared to 362 at the same point the previous week. 

The seven-day incidence of the virus in Norfolk for the week up to Christmas Day was 251 per 100,000 up from 200 the previous week.

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Andrew Proctor, chair of the Norfolk Covid-19 Engagement Board and leader of Norfolk County Council, aid: “I speak for myself and all the other Norfolk leaders on the Engagement Board in saying there is no doubt that 2020 has been a really difficult year but we can look to 2021 with hope.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

“With the announcement of a second vaccine being approved and vaccination programmes already underway in Norfolk, there is much to be optimistic about.

“But we must not be complacent, we are not out of the woods yet.

“I hope the people of Norfolk will be able to look back over the last year with pride at how they have coped and come together to help others.

"So many individuals, organisations and businesses have made sacrifices and faced many challenges over a prolonged period of time. Let’s not waste what we have done together.

“We have all had to find ways of celebrating differently to make sure we stay safe and play our part in protecting ourselves, protecting others and protecting Norfolk.

“I would urge everyone simply not to travel. It’s more important than ever to keep up the good work and see in the New Year with celebrations at home with your own household or support bubble. Looking forward to 2021 is not a time we can afford to party or go to other gatherings.”

Norfolk Constabulary’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Julie Wvendth said: “Given the rise in infections and continued stress this puts on the NHS system, we would urge people to abide by the Tier 4 restrictions.

Norfolk Police's assistant chief constable for Norfolk Constabulary, Julie Wvendth. Photo: Norfolk C

Norfolk Police's assistant chief constable for Norfolk Constabulary, Julie Wvendth. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary - Credit: Archant

"If we work together to protect ourselves and each other we can put ourselves in the best place to tackle it. This includes staying local and only going out for essential journeys.

“Where breaches are reported to the police, we will consider the information provided to us and attend where necessary.

"As we have said before, we will continue to follow the four Es approach and will engage, educate and explain the regulations to people, however, blatant disregard for the regulations will not be tolerated and when required we will enforce the legislation.

“It is vitally important that over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, people avoid travelling, except locally and where essential, and do not attend gatherings, including Unlicensed Music Events and raves. These events are not only illegal but carry a significant risk of transmitting the virus. We would urge people to think twice before attending such events and will, where appropriate, take action to disrupt and shut them down.”

Norfolk’s Director of Public Health, Dr Louise Smith said: “With the new vaccines there is hope on the horizon.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

“But infection rates are at unprecedented levels in Norfolk, as they are across the country.

“There is growing demand in our three acute hospitals and across the county’s social care settings.

“The increasing number of cases is across all ages and we know around one in three people who have Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, but can still pass it on.

“So, the steps we take now are critical.

“We must continue to play our part and do everything we can to keep ourselves and our friends and family as safe and well as possible to reduce the spread of the virus and support our local NHS services.”

The key advice remains ‘hands, face, space’ – washing your hands regularly, covering your face in enclosed spaces and social distancing from anyone you do not live with or who isn’t in your support bubble is vital.

If you have any of the coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate straightway and get a test. You must continue to isolate if you test positive or are told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, a practicing GP at Staithe Surgery in Stalham and Clinical Chair for NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We have seen an amazing effort from all those involved in rolling out the vaccine - both our NHS staff and community volunteers.

"But please be patient and wait until you are contacted to come for your vaccination – do not phone or turn up at your GP practice or local hospital as they can only provide the vaccination by appointment.

“Coronavirus infection rates and hospital admissions are now higher than they were in the first wave. We are asking everyone to follow the local Tier 4 guidance and stay well by continuing to wash our hands, cover our face, and keep two metres apart. This is crucial to avoid more hospital admissions and losing more lives to this virus.

“If you have an urgent medical need but are unsure what to do, please call 111 first. They can signpost you to the most appropriate service and can even make an appointment for you if you need to be seen urgently.”

Meanwhile, parts of north and north-west Norfolk saw the region's biggest rise in coronavirus cases in the week up to Christmas.

New government data broken down by local area shows case numbers doubled or even tripled in parts of Norfolk and north Suffolk as cases nationally continue to surge. 

The figures are relatively small, but areas that have seen the biggest percentage increase include Wells and Blakeney with 17 cases in total (up 142pc); Cromer with 16 cases (up 300pc) and Mundesley, Trunch and Bacton with 11 cases (up 450pc).

The data shows that although the virus has spread to all parts of the region, case numbers are still low in some communities and in some areas cases even appear to be decreasing. 

North Norfolk District Council has said people should heed the Tier 4 guidelines around ‘staying local’ and urged them not to visit for exercise.

Other large increases were recorded in Bawdeswell, Swanton Morley and North Elmham with 14 cases (up by 366.7pc); Lowestoft Harbour and Kirkley with 14 cases (up by 250pc); Yarmouth North with 13 cases (up by 333pc) and Thetford North with eight cases (up by 300pc).

Areas that saw a decrease in case numbers included Worlingham and Barnby with three cases (down by 66.7pc); Gorleston South and Beach with 13 cases (down by 35pc) and Stalham and Sea Palling with nine cases (down by 35.7pc).

In Norwich, Hellesdon South East saw the biggest increase with 30 total cases (up by 150pc) but there was a significant decrease in University and Avenues with 14 cases (down by 33pc).

Click on these links to find out how best to treat Covid-19 symptoms at home and what to do if symptoms worsen:

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