One year of Covid: The areas with the most and fewest deaths

Swaffham/Hethersett

Swaffham has the highest number of Covid deaths in Norfolk, while Hethersett has had one of the fewest number of deaths - Credit: Archant

More than 1400 people have died from coronavirus in Norfolk and Waveney since last March - but there is a huge variation between different neighbourhoods.

Nowhere has been as badly hit as Swaffham where 38 people died.

Independent councillor for the town, David Wickerson, said he believed the the area's ageing demographic and high number of care homes - there are four in the town - were the cause.

“We had people transferred from Covid wards back into care homes," he said.

“But the community did so well support everyone. There are almost too many people and groups to mention who have kept the town going.”

Independent district councillor for Swaffham David Wickerson

Independent district councillor for Swaffham David Wickerson - Credit: David Wickerson

Kurt Oliver's pub - the White Hart - was transformed into an emergency Covid centre at the beginning of the pandemic.

The team at The White Hart pub in Swaffham. From left trainee chef Gordon, chef Leo, catering manage

The team at The White Hart pub in Swaffham. From left trainee chef Gordon, chef Leo, catering manager, Karen, bartender Amy, Kurt Oliver, Laura Oliver and bartender Louise. Picture: The White Hart. - Credit: Archant

He said the pub’s role had snowballed after a young mother in tears came in to ask for toilet paper early on in the crisis.

“She came back the next day with more rolls to give to anyone else who needed them,” said Mr Oliver.

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“Then people started donating food and meals, and the supermarkets started giving us stuff, and a whole army of volunteers offered to pack and deliver it.

“We helped people with things like picking up prescriptions, and set up care meals for the elderly and isolated. That means 15-20 meals a day delivered now, which we will continue.

“But while the White Hart gets given credit there are so many others in the community that have gone above and beyond to help people.”

Other places with a high number of Covid deaths are Downham Market, Dereham and Necton.

The village of Hethersett sits at the opposite end of the scale, with just two Covid-related deaths recorded since March last year.

Adrienne Quinlan chairs the parish council and suggested the village’s unique characteristics might have helped protect it.

Chair of Hethersett Parish Council, Adrienne Quinlan

Chair of Hethersett Parish Council, Adrienne Quinlan - Credit: Adrienne Quinlan

“We’re one of the biggest villages in Norfolk, but we are not a town, and that sets us apart,” she said.

“We don’t have a high street in the traditional sense. While there are shops, the lack of a place for people to mix might have made the difference.

“And through our planning applications we’ve seen an increasing number of plans to add a home office, which suggests a lot of people were able to work from home. That could have made a difference to how often families were exposed to the virus.”

Hethersett resident Peter Steward said the village’s close community probably helped too, as elderly people could always be sure there was someone to run errands for them rather than venturing out themselves.

Hethersett resident Peter Steward

Hethersett resident Peter Steward - Credit: Peter Steward

The other areas with the lowest number of Covid deaths were Thetford North, Hethersett, Worstead, Happisburgh and areas of Norwich city centre.

The average percentage of people in those areas who are aged 65 or over in those areas is 21pc, slightly lower than Norfolk’s  average of 25pc.

Another area to have seen very few deaths is Thorpe Hamlet, where just three virus deaths were recorded.

The area is well below the Norfolk average for people aged 65 or over – at 15.3pc of the population.

Labour county councillor Chris Jones said one of the things that sets the area apart from others is a high turnover of population.

Dr Chris Jones, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Broadland. Pic: Julia Holland.

Labour county councillor for Thorpe Hamlet Chris Jones - Credit: Archant

“We’re one of the more affluent areas, and we know that rates are linked with deprivation, but other affluent areas have been hit harder by deaths, probably because of their demographic.

“Very simplistically, there are quite a lot of young professional families moving in and out.”

As previously reported by this newspaper, levels of deprivation in urban areas have had a marked impact on the number of cases.

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