'Act like you have coronavirus to stem spread' says public health boss amid record Norfolk rates

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in Manchester, in the final week of a four

The third national coronavirus lockdown is under way. - Credit: PA

Everyone in Norfolk should act as if they have coronavirus to help bring down the record rates of the virus in the county, according to health bosses.

Latest figures for Norfolk show rates are now at more than 400 cases per 100,000 people, with the numbers going up in every part of the county.

With the third national lockdown now in place, amid a strong 'Stay at home' message, Diane Steiner, deputy director of public health for Norfolk, said if everybody acted as if they were at risk of passing on the disease to others, it could help stem the spread.

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in Manchester, in the final week of a four

The third national coronavirus lockdown is under way. - Credit: PA

Thirty-five of the 550 people with Covid-19 being treated in Norfolk and Waveney's hospitals are in intensive care and Ms Steiner said everybody needs to abide by the restrictions.

Two women in their 80s, with underlying health conditions, were confirmed on Tuesday as the latest patients with Covid-19 to die at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

Two women in their 80s were the latest patients with Covid-19 to die at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Mrs Steiner said: "People should act like they have coronavirus, because one in three people who have it do not have any symptoms.

"Our rates are still below the England national average, but they are going up across the county."

And she said general community transmission, including of the new variant, rather than specific outbreaks, was behind the rising rates.

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She said: "I think the evidence we have to date is that the new variant seems to be considerably more transmissible, but there's no evidence that it causes more severe illness or mortality.

"But even if that is the case, it is leading to more people becoming ill, which will, sadly, mean more deaths.

"We have three times more people in our hospitals than we had at the beginning of December, which is an indication of why we need to keep trying to control these numbers by following the restrictions.

"People need to stick to the restrictions and reduce contact with people.

"The way to stop the new variant is the same way as before. It cannot spread if we avoid contact with others, keep our distance, wear face coverings and keep washing our hands.

"People should make sure they know the latest guidance and remind themselves of what the rules are around childcare and support bubbles.

"We all need to make sure we are up to date, so we can all do what we can to prevent the spread.

"It's helpful to remember that some people still need to go out to work for key worker jobs, so those of us who do not need to do that should be reducing our contact."

Rates increasing across the county - but too soon to say Christmas mixing was the reason

Public Health England figures showed the number of Covid-19 cases in Norfolk in the seven days up to New Year's Eve was 447.5 per 100,000 people - a 67pc increase from the previous week.

Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk all passed 450 cases per 100,000 for the first time, while Great Yarmouth moved past 500 per 100,000 for the first time - a record high for any local authority in Norfolk.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk and Breckland both recorded over 400 cases per 100,000 for the first time, while North Norfolk exceeded 350 for the first time.

Cases were up 72pc in Norwich, which recorded 643 confirmed cases in the seven days up to New Year’s Eve.

Mrs Steiner said: "The rates are going up across the county and we have had more than 6,000 new cases in the past two weeks.

"As we've seen around the country, there is community transmission and that's the case in Norfolk.

"We are still dealing with outbreaks in specific settings, but there is a lot of general community transmission - and a lot within households."

But she said it was too early to say whether the rise was due to the permissible Christmas bubble mixing - and because Norfolk went into Tier 4 on Boxing Day it might be difficult to ever draw firm conclusions.

She reiterated that anybody who has symptoms should get a test and self-isolate, while staying separate from other people they live with.

Care home outbreaks

There are outbreaks, generally defined as two or more positive cases, in 86 care homes and care settings in Norfolk.

That number has gone up - with the figure as of New Year's Eve at 67.

Mrs Steiner said: "The numbers are increasing and that's because there is more general transmission going on across the board, along with more testing happening in care homes."

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