‘Like we had the plague’ - how did Watton cope with being England’s Covid hotspot?

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Arc

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

People from Watton were treated like they “had the plague” in the midst of experiencing the county’s single worst coronavirus outbreak.

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Arc

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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.

Paul Adcock, of electrical shop, Adcocks, says people outside the town were more concerned about Wat

Paul Adcock, of electrical shop, Adcocks, says people outside the town were more concerned about Watton's rising infection rate. Picture: Archant - Credit: Ian Burt

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?

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Arc

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant


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.

Most Read

“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.”

Watton councillor Keith Gilbert says the town's coronavirus crisis has brought people closer togethe

Watton councillor Keith Gilbert says the town's coronavirus crisis has brought people closer together. Picture: Archant - Credit: Ian Burt

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.

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Arc

Watton became England's coronavirus hotspot after an outbreak at the Cranswick factory. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

“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.

Michael Brooks, from Watton Traditional Butchers, believes the second national lockdown came at the

Michael Brooks, from Watton Traditional Butchers, believes the second national lockdown came at the right time. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

“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.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus