Norfolk and Waveney expected to stay in Tier 2 as government announces review

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, L

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus in Downing Street. - Credit: PA

The government will today announce the results of its first tier review - with Norfolk and Waveney strongly expected to stay where it is.

Currently, the areas sit in Tier 2 of the localised restrictions - high alert - after being placed there alongside swathes of the population after the second national lockdown.

With rates at the time significantly below the national average, it was hoped that should cases continue to fall Norfolk could find itself joining the likes of the Isle of Man and Cornwall in the lowest rung of the system.

However, the subsequent fortnight has seen a very gradual increase in infection rates, with most recent figures for the county showing a rate of 122.4 cases per 100,000 people for the seven days ending December 12. The national average for this period was more than 205.

While this increase is unlikely to be sufficient to see Norfolk upgraded to Tier 3, it almost certainly rules out a move to Tier 1.

Other factors taken into consideration when setting tiers is the infection rate among the over 60s and the number of patients being treated for Covid-19 in hospital.

Norfolk's rate for the over 60s has been on an upward trend, while the number of people in all three of the region's hospital is also on the rise.

Again, while these rises are below the national average, it is unlikely to meet the government's criteria for a move to Tier 1.

And earlier this week, Professor Paul Hunter, a viral expert from the University of East Anglia, said he thought it unlikely any parts of the country would be moved into the lowest tier ahead of Christmas.

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Health secretary Matt Hancock is due to announce the tier review later today, which will see areas such as London and Essex moved into Tier 3, which has already been confirmed in Westminster.

Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that - for now - the English government would not be changing its arrangements for Christmas, with families allowed to meet for five days over the festive period in bubbles of no larger than three households.

He said: "We should exercise extreme caution in the way we celebrate Christmas.

"We can celebrate it sensibly but we have to be extremely cautious in the way we behave."

And chief medical officer Chris Whitty urged people to keep Christmas celebrations "short, small and local".

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