Seven days to save town from lockdown nightmare
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
A council is sending its staff to knock on doors following a surge of infections as it looks to head off tighter lockdown restrictions.
Great Yarmouth has seen a spike in coronavirus cases which have nearly trebled, triggering a high-profile intervention to stop the spread.
While two previous outbreaks had both been traced back to poultry factory workers, the latest increase was being spread between households and not limited to a single area or workplace.
Public Health England data shows the borough of Great Yarmouth had 95.6 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days up to Thursday, October 1.
That compares to 37.3 cases per 100,000 for the seven days leading up to Thursday, September 24 - an increase of 156pc.
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Manchester has the highest rate of 521.
Council leader Carl Smith said the town was at a crucial tipping point which could go either way.
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He urged everyone in the borough to make sure they followed all the latest lockdown rules in order to “protect lives and livelihoods in Great Yarmouth. “We have a very small window of opportunity of seven to 10 days max. This really could be crucial,” he said.
“We are really trying to get the message across to residents and visitors to abide by the rules. My message to the people of Great Yarmouth is please follow the rules.
“The last thing we want to see is for Great Yarmouth to have any more restrictions which would be devasating for everyone.”
Head of environmental health James Wilson said council staff would be knocking on doors all week, visting hundreds of high-risk homes, and delivering thousands of leaflets in multiple languages as it tried to pull the town back from the brink of a deeper lockdown.
A second line of attack will see officers target businesses in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston to make sure they are Covid-safe.
Lisa Carr at Carr’s chip stall said she was worried about the rise in cases from both a personal and business point of view.
However, she said overall people seemed to be doing their best with more people wearing face coverings and looking to stay safe.
Drilling down into the most detailed neighbourhood data for the period September 25 to October 1 reveals 95 positive cases were recorded across the borough.
The majority of the cases were in areas named as Yarmouth Central and Northgate, and Yarmouth Parade, with 38 in the last seven days for which data is available.
A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said its officers would be targeting areas in the town centre where the data suggested the cases were coming from including the Newtown area, Nelson Road, and Middlegate.
The trajectory was up, he said, adding that the planned high-visibility engagement swoop was preventative and aimed at heading off additional restrictions.
From early afternoon on Monday shoppers would see extra marshals in the town centre reminding people of the urgent need to follow the advice given the rise in cases.
Reaching a rate of 100 cases per 100,000 people would likely trigger more severe lockdown restrictions, Mr Smith said, adding that the decision would be made by Public Health England in conjunction with the Government and council.
They would likely include a ban on people mixing households indoors and out.
He said a second rise was expected as people mixed more, but that no specific cause had been given for the rise in Great Yarmouth.
Meanwhile people in the street said they were unaware of the increase, one woman saying she had just been in a shop with five others who were not wearing masks.
“It made me feel like I wanted to leave quickly,” she said. “It’s not really the shopkeeper’s fault, he was just one man behind a screen. These are the type of people the council needs to speak to.”