Analysis: Is lockdown finally working in Norfolk?
- Credit: PA
There are signs that coronavirus infections are falling across the majority of Norfolk, but local flare ups and struggling hospitals show there is still a long way to go.
The latest weekly Public Health England data up to January 9 shows Norfolk’s infection rate has dropped for the first time in six weeks, falling from 504.3 infections to 491.5 per 100,000 people.
In Suffolk, the county-wide rate of infection carried on climbing, albeit slower, rising from 481.6 to 498.2 in the week leading up to January 9.
And University of Cambridge researchers have identified the East of England region as one where the R rate - the rate at which the virus is reproducing - is currently below one, meaning it is in retreat.
Most local authority areas in Norfolk are showing signs of improvement, with the biggest drop seen in South Norfolk.
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There, cases fell from 709 to 512, giving the area an infection rate of 363.4 per 100,000 people – the lowest rate in Norfolk and 27.8pc lower than the week before.
Cases and infection rates in Great Yarmouth also fell for the first time in six weeks in the seven days to January 9, down 10.1pc on the week before.
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The fall left the area with a total of 554 cases and a rate of 557.7 per 100,000.
North Norfolk’s infection rate decreased for the first time in a month, with 40 fewer cases giving the area a rate of 368.2 by January 9 – a drop of 9.4pc.
And in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk cases and rates also fell for the first time in six weeks, with 44 fewer cases giving the area a rate of 448.5 – 6.1pc lower than the week before.
While falling numbers could suggest lockdown is working in these areas, infection rates remain high in all four areas that saw a decrease.
Another consideration is the rising rates in Norwich and Breckland in the week leading up to January 9.
Norwich saw the highest increase, with 166 new cases sending the city’s rate shooting up by 23.8pc to 614.6.
The increase in the city could be down to a fresh outbreak at the prison, with reports of up to 200 cases inside the facility. Previous outbreaks in the prison have seen rates and cases rocket in the area.
In Breckland, 56 new cases meant an 8.1pc rise in the infection rate, taking it up to 536.6 per 100,000 people.
On a local level, more than half of all Norfolk neighbourhoods saw a fall in case rates in the week leading up to January 9 – with 62 out of 110 reporting reductions.
The Bradwell North area of Great Yarmouth saw the biggest fall, with 53 fewer cases sending its rate down 67.1p to 409.4.
Other areas with big decreases included Mulbarton Tasburgh and Saxlingham Nethergate and Scole, Dickleburgh and Bressingham in South Norfolk, where rates fell by 60pc and 55.6 pc respectively.
But a rise in infection rates was still seen in 38pc of neighbourhoods, with rates more than doubling in six local areas.
The biggest rise in local areas was seen in the Town, South Lynn and West Lynn area of King’s Lynn, where infection rates rose by 156.7pc in the week up to January 9, up to 686.7.
The Heartsease and Piling Park area of Norwich – which includes the site of the prison – saw rates rise by 127.7pc in the same week, taking the local rate up to 1071.6 per 100,000 people.
The Catton Grove and Airport neighbourhood of the city also saw a spike in rates, with a rise of 117.1pc taking the rate there to 693.7.
It means that restrictions are unlikely to be eased for several weeks as both infection rates and hospital capacity, which follows a few weeks behind infection rates, would need to see big improvements.
At the moment hospitals in Norfolk are running at 90pc bed capacity.