'Be ready to wait for Covid-safe vote', says Norfolk health boss
People who are planning to vote in person at next week’s local elections should be prepared to queue and bring their own pen or pencil to cast their ballot.
That was the message from senior public health officials today, as new data showed a near 25 per cent rise in weekly coronavirus cases in West Norfolk.
Voters are due to go to the polls next Thursday, May 6, to choose new county councillors, as well as Norfolk’s next Police and Crime Commissioner.
There are also by-elections to fill vacant seats on both the Downham town council and Clenchwarton parish council.
In a video released today, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, said: “We’re really privileged here to be able to vote in free elections and, this year, arrangements have been put in place to make that voting Covid-safe.”
She said social distancing measures will be in place at polling stations and residents should anticipate having to wait outside and check weather conditions accordingly.
She also advised voters to bring their own pen or pencil to mark voting papers and reduce the need to share equipment with others and potentially risk spreading the virus.
Officials are also urging the public to continue following social distancing guidance and get themselves tested regularly in order to reduce the spread of infection.
Walk-in tests have been available at locations across the county, including in Lynn, Downham and Hunstanton for several weeks and special buses are now set to be brought in to add extra capacity in areas where it is most needed.
Figures released by the county council showed that, for the seven days to last Thursday, April 22, West Norfolk’s rolling Covid infection rate stood at 31.1 cases per 100,000 people, up by nearly 24 per cent on the previous week.
The overall rate for Norfolk as a whole was also up by nearly 14 per cent week on week, while the equivalent regional and national figures were falling.
Deputy director of public health Diane Steiner said: “We know that one in three people who have Covid-19 don’t show any symptoms and increasing testing within communities helps to alert those who might be spreading the virus without realising it.
However, the number of coronavirus-related deaths recorded at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital since the start of the pandemic remains unchanged at 479.
And figures from the Office for National Statistics showed no Covid fatalities were recorded across all settings in the borough during the week ending April 16 - the third week in four that a zero figures has been reported.
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