How has Wymondham recovered from its coronavirus spike?
- Credit: Archant
Earlier this month, Wymondham found itself thrust into the limelight - for all the wrong reasons.
Having maintained a relatively low infection rate throughout the much of the coronavirus pandemic, suddenly there was serious cause for concern.
At one stage, Wymondham West's rate of 987 cases per 100,000 people gave it the 24-highest in England.
Wymondham East and Spooner Row was not much better off, at 763.8 cases per 100,000 people. Although, in reality these were still a small number of actual cases, given how fast the virus can spread it was still cause for concern.
Unlike October's outbreak at Cranswick Country Foods, which catapulted Watton to the very top of the infection rate table, there was no discernible root cause.
Transmission was, in the words of Norfolk's public health director, Dr Louise Smith, "taking place in the community".
But, fast forward 10 days or so, and the south Norfolk town's fortunes are at least heading in the right direction.
Recent figures show that, in the seven days up to November 23, Wymondham West's infection rate was down to 229.2 and Wymondham East's to 180.2.The overall district's rate had dropped from 196.6 to 123.5 in the space of a week.
Wymondham has seemingly entered a period of recovery, but what was it like for this market town to go from being a relative safe-zone to coronavirus hotspot?
Kevin Hurn, the town's mayor, believes most of the town's population were caught off guard by the gloomy reality of the situation.
"I think it was a shock to the system for a lot of people because they were oblivious to what was going on," he said.
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"With the outbreak in Watton, it was one main source which was identified quite quickly, so at least people knew exactly where it was coming from. In Wymondham, there was a much bigger element of surprise because we haven't got any employers on the same scale as Cranswick.
"Once we realised there was a high number of cases in town, people reacted very well. After the news came out, the very next day it was like a ghost town.
"People just weren't coming out unless they had to - it really changed overnight. That is testament to the people of Wymondham for reacting in a positive way and it has now had the desired effect."
While not everybody expected to see Wymondham become centre of attention for Norfolk's public health officials, others were less startled.
Tricia Hinton, who owns furniture and interior shop, Ebony, on Damgate Street, felt a crisis was already looming.
"When we reopened after the first lockdown I didn't feel overly worried because people were being very kind and cautious," she explained. "But then, with the second wave, everyone became very blasé.
"Because there hadn't been many cases in Wymondham, there developed this feeling of 'it's not going to get to us'. Then there was that period of a few days when everyone went mad and enjoyed themselves before the second lockdown began."
Despite raw data providing renewed cause for optimism, Ms Hinton, 60, feels attitudes still need to change.
"I watched activity in the Market Place on Friday and was really upset at the lack of care being taken," she said. "I thought to myself 'is this what's going on outside my shop?'
"We have to be responsible for our own actions. I don't think people take it seriously enough unless it affects them or someone they know."
Fellow business owner, Nicky O'Grady, who runs The Enchanted Willow florist on Market Street, has had a tough first year in business to say the least.
Nevertheless, she feels community spirit among traders has shone through in the face of adversity.
The 35-year-old remains positive about Wymondham's immediate future - providing residents and visitors alike behave responsibly.
"In terms of businesses, we have all been sticking together and promoting each other where we can," said Mrs O'Grady.
"I think when cases started going up it really hit home that people need to do as they are told. Before this career change I worked in the NHS for 17 years, so I am used to having that mentality.
"Sometimes it takes a scare like we had for people to realise how serious it is. The town is going to be fine, so long as people stay sensible."