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Coronavirus deaths in Norfolk ‘inevitable’ says county’s public health director

PUBLISHED: 12:44 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:44 20 March 2020

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Archant

Deaths in Norfolk due to coronavirus are inevitable, the county’s director of public health has warned - as she reiterated the importance of social distancing.

Official figures record 11 cases of coronavirus in Norfolk, but Dr Louise Smith, director of public health, said such figures were generally a couple of days behind the true picture and efforts were being stepped up to test people.

Dr Smith, speaking on BBC Radio Norfolk, said it was hard to keep up with data which was coming from different sources. She said: “We are seeing announcements from the NHS, from hospitals as they confirm cases, but the official figures are perhaps a day or two behind those.

“It’s a fast moving situation and deaths are something that we are all anticipating and anxiously looking out for and sadly it’s inevitable that, at some point, we are going to be reporting death in Norfolk.”

She said people need to heed advice on social distancing very seriously. She said: “That means reducing the amount of time we are in contact with other people to the absolute minimum we can, avoiding anyone unwell and avoiding any non-essential use of public transport.”

She added people should work from home wherever possible, avoid pubs, restaurants, clubs and family gatherings.

She said the decision to close schools, libraries and record offices was because research showed the next step had to be taken.

Dr Smith said: “The whole aim of this is to reduce pressure on health and particularly hospital services.”

She urged people to help keep up the morale and spirits of health workers. She said: “We have seen a lot of advice come out to the NHS about what they need to do to prepare.

“There is an expectation that the number of cases will increase, so hospitals and community services are really getting geared up for that, organising staff and how they are going to use the wards, in anticipation of more cases coming in.”

She said there was a slowing down of people getting coronavirus tests back, with the number being done having “massively increased”.

Dr Smith added that these were “extraordinary times” and hailed the mothers who will be spending Mothering Sunday working within the NHS and other essential services.

MORE: Warning all schools for key worker children might not be open for Monday

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