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Norfolk’s latest coronavirus cases have ‘clear connections’ says public health chief

PUBLISHED: 12:22 08 August 2020

The drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

The drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

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Coronavirus cases in Norfolk “are linked through family and social contact”, the county’s top public health official has revealed.

Louise Smith, Director of Public Health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella WilkinsonLouise Smith, Director of Public Health in Norfolk. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

People living in the Great Yarmouth area have been urged to follow the rules on self-isolation, after a rise in cases in the area in recent days.

It comes after four people at a Gorleston nursery tested positive for Covid-19 - where a pub worker was diagnosed the previous week.

And now Norfolk’s public health director has revealed NHS data has exposed “clear connections” between cases in the county.

Local authorities are now to be offered patient-identifiable data, with councils given access to a Public Health England database.

Dr Louise Smith confirmed the county council would sign the data protection agreement to access the numbers - but said they would be processed confidentially.

She said data had now started to “flow” and added: “We are getting more information about contact tracing. My team are now able to go in and understand the cases we have locally and spend more time on how we link these together.”

And Dr Smith said the cases seen this week could all be linked, which meant there was no “unexplained” virus transmission taking place - but warned the situation could move fast.

”All of the cases can be linked,” she said. “We know that because of the detailed analysis my team have been able to do. That gives us confidence the cases we’re seeing this week can be explained and are linked through family and social contact.”

She said they could see “clear connections between people” and added: “We know through the links of each others names and members of extended family.

“We are not seeing unexplained circulation in the general population. What we mean by that is you don’t know the name of the person you got it from or the names of the people you gave it to.

“We’re not in that situation but it could change very quickly.

“The key message for people is that if anybody in their house has symptoms they must self-isolate.

“The more people do to control this the more we can stop the spread. What this suggests to us is that this isn’t 100pc happening.”

However, Dr Smith also revealed that Norfolk was close to hitting the 80pc target for test and trace.

“The critical thing is enough people are traced,” she said. “In order for it to work, we’re aiming for 80pc of cases.

“We are pretty close to getting that threshold.”

• People have been urged to book online via www.nhs.uk or phone 111 to book a coronavirus test if they think they have symptoms. Mobile testing units will be available in Gorleston on Tuesday, August 11.


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