Plea to stem rise in Covid cases by stopping journeys which are not essential

Wymondham had seen a surge in coronavirus cases. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

Wymondham had seen a surge in coronavirus cases. Photo: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Norfolk’s rising coronavirus rates will not be halted if people in the county keep making non-essential journeys and ignore instructions to isolate, council leaders and health experts have warned.

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

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, described as a “large rise”, by the county’s public health director.

There are currently 161 people with Covid-19 being treated in the county’s hospitals.

Rates in Wymondham, where there have been 145 cases in the seven days up to November 13, are of particular concern.

And that prompted a plea by Norfolk County Council for people to only leave home when it is essential and to follow the national guidelines.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Picture: ROSE SAPEY

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Picture: ROSE SAPEY - Credit: Rose Sapey


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Stay at home plea

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor said: “We are two weeks into the national restrictions and the rates in Norfolk are continuing to rise in most parts of the county, so we haven’t yet seen the effects of the two weeks of restrictions.

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“It’s essential that people in Norfolk do follow the national restrictions, otherwise we will not be able to halt the ongoing rise in Covid cases.”

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Mr Proctor said people should not leave home unless essential - for shopping, education, exercise and work, if that was not possible from home.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health said people should stay at home as much as possible.

She 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.”

Ignoring test and trace

At a press conference on Thursday, Dr Smith said she feared the spread was being caused by people ignoring instructions to isolate.

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: “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.”

Wymondham

The increase in cases in Wymondham has not been linked to a specific outbreak, such as a factory, suggesting it is spreading in the community.

Dr Smith said she was concerned feedback from Wymondham and elsewhere in Norfolk was that, some people were not sticking to lockdown rules and making journeys which were not essential.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said it should “serve as a warning to the rest of Norfolk” and was due to a “lack of discipline”, with people not isolating.

Asked whether South Norfolk Council was taking action against any specific businesses or institutions which had breached restrictions, Mr Fuller said a number of “potential sources” were being followed up.

He said: “I don’t think it’s helpful to fuel speculation, rumours and innuendo flying around.

“I’d rather deal with facts before we jump to point fingers.

“This requires everyone to be disciplined, not just outside the home, but within the home.

Dr Smith said a “significant” number of the cases 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.

Schools

There are now 20 outbreaks at schools and colleges in Norfolk.

Dr Smith said data showed transmission of coronavirus among children was low, But she said: “Where we are seeing more cases in among staff. What we are seeing is the risk is higher for staff working in schools and transmission between staff than it is for children. I hope that reassures parents.”

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