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Medical expert says national lockdown would be “inappropriate” for East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 20:39 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 October 2020

Deputy Chief Medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Photo: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Deputy Chief Medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Photo: Leon Neal/PA Wire

One of the nation’s most high-profile medics has said that a national lockdown would be “inappropriate” for East Anglia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Photo: Leon Neal/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus. Photo: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam made the comments during a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday.

It comes after five of Norfolk’s MPs, organised by Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew, signed a letter in support of the government’s tiered local and regional restrictions.

In it, they urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to not push for a national lockdown because it would harm Norfolk.

Prof Van-Tam also said he did not currently support a full national circuit-breaker for England like those introduced for Northern Ireland and Wales.

But the deputy chief medical officer for England warned that said “we may have to push on the pedal a little harder” to get the R rate under control.

The comments came after Boris Johnson refused to rule out a nationwide lockdown.

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In response to a question from Jake from Chester, the prime minister said: “What we are trying to avoid is a national lockdown at all.

“We don’t rule anything out but the difficulty is that the distribution of the virus this time round is very uneven by comparison with March and April.

“And so the right response is, as many other countries are doing, to go to this local and regional approach.”

Great Yarmouth and Norwich have the highest coronavirus infection rates across Norfolk with 106 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days up to October 19 and 90.6 respectively according to Public Health England figures.

But the city and coastal town’s infection rates are still below the national average which is 169.8 per 100,000 people for the same period.

Efforts have also been made to stem the spread of the virus, including a team of Norwich City Council Covid support officers out in the busy city centre at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said the government was looking at how it may review restrictions to allow people to visit their elderly relatives in care homes.

Speaking at the press conference, the prime minster said: “But we are certainly looking at what we can do to review the circumstances that might allow people to visit their elderly relatives in extreme circumstances, and on compassionate grounds, because, you know, I can see how absolutely wretched it is and I think many, many people across the country have now had experience of this problem.”


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