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Officials urge Covid caution despite West Norfolk infections nearly halving in a week

Coronavirus infection rates in West Norfolk almost halved in a week around the latest easing of restrictions on social contact, according to new figures.

But police and health chiefs have pleaded for the public to keep their guard up even as they head out and about more over the coming weeks.

The call follows the first weekend on which pubs, bars and restaurants able to serve customers indoors this year, following last Monday’s move into the third phase of lockdown easing.

Coronavirus news.
Coronavirus news.

And figures for the seven days to May 18, the day after the relaxations came into effect, showed there were just 18 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the borough, down by nearly 48 per cent on the previous week.

The area’s rolling infection was also down to just 11.9 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 22.1 a week earlier.

A total of 82 cases were recorded across Norfolk over the same period, down by almost 44 per cent on the previous week, with a rolling infection rate of just nine cases per 100,000 people.

Dr Louise Smith, director of Norfolk Public Health. (43987251)
Dr Louise Smith, director of Norfolk Public Health. (43987251)

Elsewhere, the number of vaccination doses administered in the Norfolk and Waveney region has now exceeded a million, while people aged 32 and over can now book their jab appointments.

Melanie Craig, chief executive of the region’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said it was vital that younger people make sure they are protected too.

She said: “Younger people who have had Covid-19 are just as likely to develop long Covid symptoms.

“Having the vaccine will help protect people from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, reducing the chances of being affected by the virus longer term. You will also help protect others by having the jab.”

And, with concerns growing about the spread of the so-called Indian variant - along with weekend reports suggesting officials are investigating a potential further mutation of the virus discovered in Yorkshire - officials remain cautious about how far people should lower their guard.

Ahead of the weekend, Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council’s director of public health, said: “We’ve been living with lockdown restrictions for some time, and I know many people will want to go out and celebrate their easing, but it is vital we all do so carefully.

“If we want to see more restrictions lifted we have to keep the spread of the virus low, and that means being cautious, being responsible and respecting social distancing.”

Norfolk Police’s Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Julie Wvendth, added: “We expect people to take full advantage of this next step in easing restrictions.

“We would simply ask people to enjoy themselves but to do so safely and sensibly, following the instructions of staff at any premises.”

Some reports have also suggested that scientists advising the Government want the final easing of lockdown restrictions to be delayed until September in order to prevent a further spike in infections.

At present, ministers want to lift the remaining restrictions from June 21, though that date remains subject to review.

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