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Coronavirus in Norfolk: Expert shares ‘simple but effective’ advice

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 28 February 2020

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

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

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Norfolk is at a low risk of a coronavirus outbreak at the moment, a health expert has said.

Dr Louise Smith said the coronavirus risk for Norfolk was 'very low'. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilDr Louise Smith said the coronavirus risk for Norfolk was 'very low'. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health, said while fear around the virus was understandable, the county, along with the rest of the UK, was well-equipped to deal with any cases.

She said: "We have a very robust public health system in the UK. We have good access to testing and policy in place to make sure staff are protected.

"In Norfolk, as well as the rest of the country, we are extremely well-prepared. We have had experience of dealing with issues like this from previous outbreaks, we have a good system which works from the core. We're in a strong a position as a country could be."

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But Dr Smith did advise more frequent hand-washing than usual as a precautionary measure.

She said: "It is important to wash hands regularly and with soap and water and to do so more frequently throughout the day. If you don't have access to a sink, then an alcohol gel will do the same job.

"Carrying tissues is also a good idea and to make sure they are disposed of properly after they have been used. After this it is important to wash your hands too. All this advice is very simple but it is effective."

Recent fears have been sparked about Norfolk tourists returning from affected areas in Europe, such as Italy and Tenerife, but Dr Smith said there was no need for others to worry.

She said: "If you have not been travelling then the action will be taken by the person who has been. Should anything come up, any person who has had contact with them will be contacted - we have a clear system in place.

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"And my advice for parents where other children may have been to an affected area is to not worry. It is about balancing risk. Education is important to children and keeping children in school is important too."

For those who have visited an affected area, Dr Smith said to follow advice on the Foreign Office and NHS websites.

As of Thursday, the Department of Health said a total of 7,690 people have been tested in the UK for the virus, of which 7,675 were confirmed negative and 15 positive.

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