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Coronavirus peak in Norfolk could come in mid April, says public health director

PUBLISHED: 18:01 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:02 31 March 2020

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Archant

The peak of the coronavirus pandemic could hit Norfolk between mid April and the start of May, the county’s director of public health has said.

The county has just seen its biggest daily increase in the number of deaths, with seven newly reported fatalities taking the tragic total to 18.

Dr Louise Smith, the county’s public health director, said it was not possible to say how many more deaths there would be - but that she expected the peak was still a few weeks away.

She said: “It is very sad to hear that more families have lost their loved ones. We know the NHS services and staff are working very hard to treat people and pull them through, but it is not always possible.

“We do not know exactly how many more there will be, but we are fairly sure that we anticipate seeing the number of deaths a day going up over the next few weeks.”

Dr Smith said it would still be a number of days before the effects of the social distancing and isolation measures which have been introduced showed up in the figures.

And she said: “The task now is for us to have everything ready for when the peak hits. It’s likely to be a very short period of time, but it will not feel like that when we are in the middle of it.

“We are anticipating that peak from mid to late April to early May. By the end of May we think we will see the figures coming down.”

She said Norfolk remained a couple of weeks behind London.

While the majority of people who have died had underlying health conditions, that has not been the case with all of them.

And Dr Smith said; “That shows why people need to stay indoors. They need to protect themselves, but also protect those who are vulnerable.

“People really need to not be making contact outside of their households.”

She said if people have been out, if they are key workers, helping the vulnerable, getting essential items or doing exercise, it remained important for people to wash their hands.

She said deliveries of protective equipment were happening, but that it had been “slow”.

And she said efforts were being made to get people who have recovered from the virus, along with people who were in hospital with other illnesses safely home or to other care settings.

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