Coronavirus probe call over high number of cases in west Norfolk
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A call has been made for a public inquiry to investigate the reasons why west Norfolk was harder hit by coronavirus than other parts of the county.
Official statistics show there have been 849 cases of the virus in west Norfolk, almost double the 431 cases in Breckland, the next most affected area of the county and almost three times the number of cases in Norwich.
The town’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has reported 153 deaths of patients who had coronavirus.
And Alexandra Kemp, independent county councillor for Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South, used a meeting of Norfolk County Council to call for an immediate review as to why west Norfolk had been hit so hard.
She said: “We have sadly seen the highest number of COVID deaths in Norfolk and the 14th highest infection rate of local tier authorities.
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“Public Health Norfolk have said all the vulnerabilities in west Norfolk have underlying conditions, including diabetes, obesity and lung disease.
“Can the leader set up a proper structure for an immediate public health inquiry to increase resilience before any other COVID outbreak.”
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Council leader Andrew Proctor said he shared the concerns over the high numbers in West Norfolk and offered condolences to anybody who had lost a family member.
But he said he believed any public inquiry would happen nationally, rather than on a local level. But he said: “There is work being done in relation to the local outbreak control plan and that gives us an opportunity to look in more detail at what happened in west Norfolk, so we can have the data to prevent a recurrence.”
Earlier this month, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital announced it was launching a full review into every coronavirus patient’s death to learn and improve in the case of a second wave.Speaking at the time, Dr Frankie Swords, medical director for QEH, said: “Covid is a new condition and the treatments for this are still evolving.
“We therefore wanted to do all we could to learn from what we did and how we coped with this first wave, to help us to plan the very best care if we do face more cases or a second wave in the future.”
Norfolk’s public health director Dr Louise Smith previously said it was possible that the epidemic reached the west of the county first,She said it might have been more widespread in the west of the county before lockdown measures were introduced than was the case in other parts of the county.