Norfolk's Omicron wave may have peaked

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA

Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. Picture: UEA - Credit: UEA

An expert in viral diseases has said there is reason to be optimistic that the worst of the Omicron wave is behind us, as case numbers begin to dip locally.

Latest figures show that the number of Covid-19 cases in the county have started to decline since the beginning of the month.

Having hit a high of 2,007 cases per 100,000 people on January 4, the rate on January 7 was 1,736 cases.

Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia's school of medicine said the data may indicate that the local Omicron wave has passed through its peak.

He said: "The number of infections in Norfolk are going down in both the over 60s and the under 60s age group, which is always an encouraging sign.

"I think this month we will see this continue and once Omicron works through the remaining susceptible people we will see a fairly low level of infection through until after the summer."

Prof Hunter added: "I think we getting to the stage where the value of further restrictions and the value of isolation will get less and less - although we are not quite there yet.

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"But I think we can be optimistic that Omicron may have passed its peak."

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk

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

The latest variant of the virus has been responsible for the vast majority of cases in recent weeks, particularly in the final week of 2021.

During this week, in Breckland it was responsible for 100pc of sequenced cases, with West Norfolk's rate of 86pc Omicron the lowest in the region.

In parliament, health security Sajid Javid highlighted the East of England as an area that was seeing "encouraging signs", which was echoed by Norfolk's director of public health, Louise Smith.

She said: "Covid-19 case numbers in Norfolk have declined in recent days, in line with national trends. These are encouraging, but it is too early to say with certainty that we are past the peak of this Omicron wave. Case numbers, and the number of patients in Norfolk’s hospitals, remain very high.

“We will continue to monitor cases and hospitalisations over the coming days, to see whether the recent drops continue."

What do the latest figures show?

The most recent rate of infection for Norfolk as a whole is 1,736 cases per 100,000 people in the region.

But as of Sunday, January 9, there were 91 people admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

Of these, 38 were in the Norfolk and Norwich, 22 in the James Paget, 21 in the Queen Elizabeth and 10 in other medical facilities.

However, all three hospitals were treating a significantly lower number of Covid patients as on January 11 than they were on the same day in 2021.

On January 11, 188 people were in hospital being treated for Covid-19 in Norfolk. On the same day in 2021, there were 566.

And of these, only four were receiving critical care for their symptoms. On January 11, 2021, this figure was 57.

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