Norfolk urged to 'think carefully' about Christmas by local health bosses

There were 44 coronavirus patients in beds at Norfolk's hospitals at the start of October. Photo: Pe

There were 44 coronavirus patients in beds at Norfolk's hospitals at the start of October. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Health bosses have penned an open letter urging people in Norfolk to think carefully about Christmas plans.

It comes after the coronavirus infection rate for the entire county was recorded at 129 per 100,000 people in the latest Public Health England figures. 

The letter, which included signatures from leaders at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Norfolk County Council, echoed Boris Johnson's address to the nation earlier this week.

The prime minister advised people to a have smaller and shorter Christmas and to "think hard" about festive celebrations. 

The letter detailed advice, including not seeing elderly or vulnerable relatives, and said the guidance was "not issued lightly."

It said: "Our message today is clear - Norfolk needs you. It needs you to make the right choice this Christmas and live within the guidelines."

The open letter to the people of Norfolk from local health leaders in full:

"To the people of Norfolk, With the world facing its biggest health emergency in living memory, we have come together to speak to you jointly in a way that we have never done so before. Today, as we address you with frankness and honesty, we ask of you one thing – that you think very carefully about your Christmas plans.

"The emergence of COVID-19 has confronted our National Health Service and its partners with its biggest challenge for generations. Our health and social care colleagues have risen admirably to meet that challenge and continue to do so, despite the incredible strain the virus has placed upon our staff and resources.

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"However, this is not a quick win situation. Despite this incredible hard work, infection rates continue to rise and this Christmas – let’s be candid - we have a monumental challenge on our hands. A challenge that can only be won by each of us making further sacrifice.

"Our current infection rate (123 cases per 100,000 people) is more than double where we found ourselves at the start of October (47 cases per 100,000 people). At the beginning of September, there were just 8 cases per 100,000 people. If this current trajectory continues, there will be a significant impact and the situation will go on for much longer.

"Sadly, we no longer have the capacity to lower our guard or lessen our resolve over the festive period. We must continue to live with caution and follow guidance fully. We therefore ask that you think carefully about your Christmas plans. As Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has already told the nation, one of the best ways to fight this virus is to limit contact with other people, so we ask that you choose your Christmas bubble wisely and stick with that bubble. We also ask that you think twice before seeing your elderly or vulnerable relative. This is on top of those things we already do well, such as washing hands, wearing a mask and social distancing.

"We do not offer this advice lightly – Christmas gatherings are, of course, very special and personal celebrations. However, this is an extraordinary year. We know our health service would be under significant pressure if cases continue to rise in January.

"Our message today is clear - Norfolk needs you. It needs you to make the right choice this Christmas and live within the guidelines. Thank you."

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