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OPINION: Norfolk cannot be a special case and must go into lockdown with the rest of England

PUBLISHED: 07:14 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 07:55 04 November 2020

Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth. PHOTO: UK Parliament

Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth. PHOTO: UK Parliament

Archant

Today, MPs in the House of Commons will be asked to vote to put Norfolk – and the entire country – into new lockdown restrictions until the first week in December.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise BradleyNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

And like many other MPs, I will support those restrictions, announced by the prime minister, to come into force.

I will not do so lightly, however, as I understand the concerns some of my constituents and others in the county have raised about us going back into a national lockdown when we have been less affected by Covid-19 cases than other parts of England.

Understandably, workers and their families and businesses-owners have been asking why the county should be included in the new measures having spent weeks in Tier 1.

Unfortunately, the answer is very stark as has been outlined by the prime minister in recent days.

Brandon Lewis' local hospital, the James Paget at Gorleston      Picture: DENISE BRADLEYBrandon Lewis' local hospital, the James Paget at Gorleston Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The government’s scientific experts believe unless action is taken, we could see twice as many deaths in the next few months as we did during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year.

The modelling is for the whole country, so while things in Norfolk may seem less severe than in other parts of the country, it may not be the case for long.

It is why we must do something now to protect the NHS and to reduce transmission and save lives.

We need to protect our fantastic major hospitals – the James Paget University Hospital in my constituency, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as well as all our NHS services.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said the national lockdown is time-limited and data will be used to determine which tier areas return to afterwards. Pic: PA Wire/PA ImagesPrime minister Boris Johnson has said the national lockdown is time-limited and data will be used to determine which tier areas return to afterwards. Pic: PA Wire/PA Images

Those hospitals have already seen rises in the number of Coronavirus patients needing treatment, as reported by the EDP last month.

Unless action is taken, those numbers will continue to rise 
and the real danger is NHS services in Norfolk and North Suffolk could be overwhelmed by the virus.

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The data we are seeing shows hospital capacities to deal with virus patients would be exceeded in a matter of weeks.

Routine surgeries, treatments and appointments would be postponed, while ultimately doctors and nurses would face the prospect of turning away non-Covid patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries from our hospitals.

I am sure none of us want to see that situation.

Throughout this pandemic, this government has promised to do what it can to protect lives and livelihoods.

Bringing in the lockdown restrictions will help save lives, but of course we know it is not a cost-free process.

We know that people and businesses have already had to make big sacrifices.

But it is why we will continue to try to mitigate against those problems with financial support packages, with the Chancellor announcing the furlough 
scheme will be extended at 80pc and help for the self-employed increased.

The support will be in place until the lockdown is over in early December and MPs will then vote on what happens next.

Clearly, none of us wanted to be in this position or situation.

But I also know, there is support for these lockdown measures in the short term to help us get to a position where we can overcome the virus.

I believe these new lockdown restrictions, as hard as they are, are the right way to go for Norfolk and the entire country and I will be supporting them.


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