Why coronavirus levels in North Norfolk are among the lowest in Britain
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Early testing of care home residents, wearing masks and social distancing have helped keep coronavirus levels in part of Norfolk among the lowest in England.
North Norfolk saw just a single new case last week, giving it the second-lowest infection rate in the country.It came as thousands tested positive for Covid-19 in other areas, sparking fears of a second wave.
North Norfolk Primary Care, an alliance of 19 GP practices, began testing care home residents early during the pandemic.
Dr Paul Everden, its innovation lead, said this had reduced the death rate from coronavirus.
A specialist team of practice nurses tested 518 residents in 44 care homes, and 340 staff in 10 care homes using nose and throat swabs between April 7 and June 29.
They found 103 residents tested positive in 14 homes and 49 staff in seven homes. However, only 38 had typical symptoms at the time of the test.
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Some 54 residents were completely asymptomatic when tested, and 12 developed symptoms within 14 days.
Testing enabled those capable of spreading the disease who were not showing symptoms to be isolated.
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Dr Everden said the public had also played its part in helping slow the spread of the disease.
“North Norfolk and Norfolk as a whole looks to be faring very well, despite it being a highly sought-out destination for tourism,” he said.
“The great part of the North Norfolk population has really adopted face masks
“They realise it’s not about keeping you safe, it’s about keeping others safe.”
Dr Everden said people observing social distancing measures were also playing a major part in keeping themselves and people safe.
He added it was difficult to predict when or if a second wave might occur in Norfolk.
“When you see the modelling work and the different variables making predictions is so difficult,” he said.
“Let’s do what’s right now like social distancing, wearing masks and having respect for each other,” he said. “Maybe we can keep our figures this low.”
A paper on how the primary care alliance had prioritised testing is being peer reviewed prior to being published in the British Journal of Medical Practitioners .