Was a ‘last hurrah’ to blame for spiking infection rates?

Boris Johnson was furious over details of new lockdown that were leaked

Boris Johnson was furious over details of new lockdown that were leaked - Credit: PA

Not so long ago Covid infections in Norfolk and Waveney were low compared to the rest of the country.

Very sadly that is no longer the case.

Some of the blame for that lies with us – the people who live here.

This second lockdown has not felt like the first. The streets are noticeably busier. People are not staying at home like they did. And there are suggestions those asked to isolate are ignoring the rules.

The fear factor has gone. But why? The coronavirus is no less deadly. Here is a shocking fact – the pandemic has now killed more people in the UK than died in the Blitz.

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But is a leak at the very top of government also partly to blame for the current spike?

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I was happily watching television and sipping a beer at about 9pm on Friday, October 30, when my phone pinged. The message from a government source read simply: “The story in The Times is correct.”

The paper had a leaked exclusive claiming Boris Johnson would announce on the following Monday the whole of England was to be placed again into very tight restrictions.

Who did the leaking - my source was simply making me aware of the story and was not the initial so-called “chatty rat” – and exactly why remains the subject of a Number 10 investigation.

But the time lag in infections certainly suggests people here in the East threw caution to the wind that weekend and enjoyed a last hurrah.

The cost of that is apparently slowly becoming clear.

Since that leak – which according to a government source left the PM “incandescent” – much has changed in Number 10. The country’s most famous lockdown rule breaker Dominic Cummings no longer has the ear of Mr Johnson.

Asked about the spike in the East a Conservative source said: “The reason for the leak is not clear. We are struggling to understand exactly what was to gain from it. Clearly there were discussions around whether the regional tiers were working or whether something more drastic had to take place but I don’t believe leaking it moved the government in any particular direction.

“It is too early to know whether people went out and had one last party that weekend. It would make me a little queasy to suggest that. But I wouldn’t be shocked.”

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. What the people of this region must do now is clear: to save lives and businesses follow the rules.

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