People in Norfolk ignoring test and trace calls contributing to virus spread

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

People in Norfolk who have ignored calls from NHS Test and Trace telling them to isolate or who refused to pass on details of others they have been in contact with are contributing to an increase in coronavirus cases, the county’s public health director has said.

As rates of coronavirus in Norfolk went up from 100 cases per 100,000 people in the week to November 6 to 149 per 100,000 in the week to November 13, Dr Louise Smith urged people to take the calls seriously.

Norfolk County Council is urging people to only leave home when it is essential and to follow the national guidelines amid the rising case rates.

Dr Smith said: “It’s essential that people stay home as much as possible. It is essential those with symptoms isolate and get a test and it essential that people work with test and trace teams and give details of their contacts.

“If you’ve been in contact with someone who has the virus you can’t test your way out of isolating – you might be carrying and passing on the virus even if you don’t have symptoms or you’ve had a negative test.

“It’s essential that we all work together to reduce the spread of the virus, so that we can protect our loved ones and our communities.”

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And she revealed people in the county were ignoring calls from NHS Test and Trace - or refusing to pass on details of people they had been in contact with.

Dr Smith said: “It’s important for me to say the vast majority are paying heed to test and trace and we are grateful and offer our thanks to everyone who is making an effort.

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“We do understand that people can be very inconvenienced by being asked to isolate.

“However, we are seeing a number of patterns that are unhelpful. One of the patterns that we are seeing is people either not taking a call, or not giving correct contact details to be called, or when they do answer a call, saying it’s not convenient to talk at the moment and could somebody call them back eight hours later, perhaps in the evening when they are no longer at work.

“So, we’d ask both the general public and employers that, if a member of your workforce is phoned by NHS Test and Trace, please allow them to take that call. It’s in their interests and also in the interests of the people they are in contact with.

“We are seeing a number of people who decline to participate in NHS Test and Trace when they are phoned, who decline to give contact details of people they have been in contact with.

“I would very much emphasise that NHS Test and Trace is a confidential service. If you tell NHS Test and Trace about someone you have been in contact with, when that person is notified that they are a contact, they will not be told by NHS Test and Trace who the original case is.”

Dr Smith said a “significant” number of the cases being seen were because of household spread. She urged people who were isolating needed to do all they could to isolate from other people in their homes.

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