Covid third wave unlikely to hit previous levels, health boss says

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

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk is not expected to be as badly hit by coronavirus infections when a third wave arrives compared with previous peaks, according to a health expert.

Speaking at a press conference on March 25, Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said: "Data tells us there will be a third wave and we are planning for that.

"That third wave will see an increase in sadly the number of people who die but all the projections are that will be considerably less than in previous waves.

"I remain optimistic that we will not need to go into widespread lockdown and tight measures."

Lockdown restrictions in England are set to be eased on March 29 meaning people will be able to meet outside in groups of six or as part of two households, as well as play outdoor sports.

The stay at home message is also expected to be dropped by the government.

Dr Smith said: "The data is encouraging and the case numbers [in Norfolk] are considerably lower than they were in our January  peak."

The coronavirus R rate in Norfolk is around 30 cases per 100,000 people and Dr Smith added that was one of the lowest rates in the east of England.

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But she added: "However, I would say that we are still being notified of 30 to 50 new cases being diagnosed every day. As we come out of lockdown and start connecting more with other people there are increasing numbers of opportunities for the virus to be transmitted so it makes sense there are gaps in the different stages of the roadmap.

"That gives us time to keep supporting the NHS to roll out the vaccine and also to test and see what is happening in terms of cases.

"I'm cautiously optimistic. It does feel like we are going in the right direction but we have some way to go yet before we can completely relax."

The public health director believed a major factor in the third wave would be the effectiveness of vaccinations and the body was preparing to support schools, care homes and businesses in the event of any outbreaks.

She encouraged anyone who was out and about more to get tested twice a week.

Dr Smith said she was pleased that no cases of the South African variant were discovered in recent surge testing in the Diss and Roydon area.

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