‘Like we had the plague’ - how did Watton cope with being England’s Covid hotspot?
- Credit: Archant
People from Watton were treated like they “had the plague” in the midst of experiencing the county’s single worst coronavirus outbreak.
The mid Norfolk town became England’s Covid-19 hotspot last month, as its infection rate soared to the highest in the country.
Figures published on November 2 revealed that, for the seven days up to October 27, the rate stood at 1,515.5 cases per 100,000 people.
There was, however, an identifiable cause - a spiralling outbreak at the Cranswick meat processing plant, Watton’s largest employer.
As 256 staff members tested positive, public health officials frantically sought to identify close contacts and set up mobile testing units.
The latest evidence suggests Watton is moving in the right direction, with just 14 cases recorded in the week up to November 4 and a revised infection rate of 169.7.
So just how did Watton cope with its own coronavirus crisis?
You may also want to watch:
Paul Adcock, owner of electrical shop, Adcocks, believes more serious concern came from elsewhere.
“Inside the town there was a degree of people taking it in their stride,” said Mr Adcock. “I think the paranoia came from outside.
- 1 Large police presence in Norfolk village after person dies on boat
- 2 Latest situation at Norfolk hospitals sees covid-related admissions remain static
- 3 Village pub offers 'proper' 1p 'Penne-y Pasta' dish with alcoholic drink
- 4 Schools close early for Christmas after outbreak of 11 Covid cases
- 5 30,000 Christmas turkeys to be culled in bird flu outbreak
- 6 Parts of Norfolk see heavy snow falls with more to come
- 7 Man denies running Japanese restaurant from Norwich home for the third time
- 8 Workmen unearth six skeletons during city street overhaul
- 9 Stubborn swan squares up to traffic in Norfolk village
- 10 Delays expected as 48-ton boat is transported through Suffolk and Norfolk
“It was an isolated incident, but we had one customer from elsewhere who told our lads to leave a delivery outside because we were from Watton. It was like we had the plague.”
Keith Gilbert, Breckland councillor for Watton, said sharing adversity has strengthened bonds within the town.
“We coped pretty well, and I think it has probably brought us closer together as a community,” he said.
“The main issue we faced was people not isolating, which was very frustrating. I haven’t heard of businesses going to the wall, but they are struggling.
“I think Breckland Council and the county council did what they could, but were let down by central government not closing the factory.”
Watton - like everywhere in Norfolk - is now negotiating a second lockdown, but Michael Brooks, from Watton Traditional Butchers, says tougher measures are for the best.
“The lockdown should have come a bit earlier, I think,” added Mr Brooks.
“The major thing that needed to close was pubs. I like a meal and drink out, but I can see how the virus might spread at the weekend with people going from pub to pub.”