More than 100 Covid cases in hospitals as Norfolk rates continue to rise

The Cranswick factory in Watton. Picture: ARCHANT

The Cranswick factory in Watton. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Health bosses feared that, without a second lockdown, double the number of people would be admitted to Norfolk’s hospitals with Covid-19 in the months ahead than during the first peak of coronavirus.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

At a Norfolk County Council press conference, the county’s public health director Dr Louise Smith said rates were still increasing, up to 92.2 cases per 100,000 people) over the past seven days, compared to 89.2pc last week.

The highest rates are in Great Yarmouth (170 cases per 100,000 people), Breckland (118) and King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (116).

She said there were 107 people in Norfolk and Waveney’s hospitals, with six in intensive care, compared to 89 last week when two patients were in intensive care.

Norfolk MPs, such as George Freeman and Duncan Baker, who had previously been sceptical about a national lockdown because of generally low rates in Norfolk this week voted in favour of it, after briefings about the potential impact on hospitals.

The national lockdown aims to reduce coronavirus infection rates. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The national lockdown aims to reduce coronavirus infection rates. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire - Credit: PA


You may also want to watch:


And Dr Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said: “If we look back to the first peak of the pandemic, we are at the stage now in this wave which would be equivalent roughly to April 1, in terms of the number that are in hospital at this stage.

“Our data shows that if the rise in rates in Norfolk continued at its current pace, rates across the whole of Norfolk would be at 150 per 100,000 by early December. That would be if we did not take the action now to go into lockdown.

Most Read

“And if we look at our worst case scenario modelling, if we didn’t have this lockdown, we were looking at the possibility in this second peak of having double the number of people admitted to hospital as in the previous peak.”

The highest number of patients who were in Norfolk’s hospitals with Covid-19 in that previous peak was just over 260 in the week of April 21 - so it could have seen more than 500 people hospitalised at the second peak.

Norfolk County Council has produced posters urging people to abide by lockdown rules. Pic: Norfolk C

Norfolk County Council has produced posters urging people to abide by lockdown rules. Pic: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Dr Smith said: “For those reasons, it is really important that we comply with this new lockdown. The risk is that, without that, rates would continue to climb and hospitals would face increased pressure.”

Food factory outbreaks

The number of workers who have tested positive for coronavirus after an outbreak at Cranswick Country Foods in Watton has risen to 256 - but public health bosses are not expecting the numbers to significantly increase further.

The outbreak was centred on the factory’s butchery, where wokers had been self-isolating since Friday last week.

Norfolk County Council has carried out further tests on other parts of the business.

The council said there had not been any positive tests from staff working in the abattoir, which has remained operational, but some working in retail and support functions had tested positive.

In total, of 1,077 tests, there were 256 positive tests, including the initial ones in the butchery, and 758 negative test results.

Dr Louise Smith, public health director for Norfolk County Council, said: “We’re not anticipating the numbers for Cranswick will rise significantly further, because the ongoing work we are doing with the factory now are to mop up loose ends.”

She said there were about 60 workers whose results were still to be confirmed, for instance, if swabbing failed and re-testing was needed.

Norfolk County Council had also been dealing with positive cases at Snack Creations in Great Yarmouth, part of the Pasta Foods group.

Dr Smith said there had been 25 positive test results in one specific area there, as of November 4.

She said: “We were very impressed with the interventions Pasta Foods and Snack Creations had already taken. They have done the contact tracing, asked people to isolate and ensured testing of those cohorts of staff.

“Parts of the factory were closed and deep cleaned and they are now operating with a skeleton staff.”

Care home outbreaks

There are currently 35 open outbreaks in Norfolk care settings, including care homes, assisted living and day centres.

Dr Smith said the vast majority was no more than two people. But she said: “We are currently working with two or three care homes that have had slightly larger numbers of cases.”

Help for vulnerable

Norfolk Resilience Forum has launched a campaign, including posters urging people to abide by the lockdown rules.

The council will be working to support those who are extremely clinically vulnerable to stay at home as much as possible.

A letter is being sent to all of those affected, detailing the support on offer, including support to access food and medication.

Although those isolating or defined as extremely clinically vulnerable will receive priority for support, anyone who needs help can contact the council on 0344 800 8020.

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