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Council leaders pay tribute to pandemic victims

Tributes were paid this week to the thousands of people to have died during the coronavirus pandemic – including almost 450 people in the Diss Express area.

Tuesday marked exactly a year since the UK was placed into a national lockdown – banning all non-essential travel and contact with other people, with almost all schools, businesses and gathering places closed in an effort to curb the spread of an emerging and deadly disease called Covid-19.

Few could have anticipated that a year later, the country would still be under severe restrictions, and even fewer would have imagined that more than 100,000 people across the UK would die after contracting the virus.

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor paid tribute to the thousands that have died during the pandemic.
Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor paid tribute to the thousands that have died during the pandemic.

In mid-Suffolk and south Norfolk, a total of 435 people have died from Covid-19. In Suffolk and Norfolk, that number swells to 3,528.

In both districts, between three and four per cent of the population have tested positive for the virus: 3,216 people in mid-Suffolk and 5,432 in south Norfolk.

Earlier this week, Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor paid tribute to those who had died over the past 12 months.

On Tuesday, he said: “As we mark the national day of reflection, my thoughts are with those families and communities affected by the death or serious illness of a loved one. It has been so hard to grieve, with numbers limited at funerals and travel restrictions in place.”

He also thanked those who had worked selflessly to help stem the spread of the virus, from health workers to ordinary citizens sticking to social distancing measures.

He added: “I have been consistently humbled by Norfolk’s response to this unprecedented pandemic.

“People have made great personal sacrifices to follow the rules and try to curb Covid – not seeing loved ones, friends and colleagues. And that’s been a really hard call for everyone.

“The county and district councils, the NHS, schools, the care sector, emergency services and the voluntary sector have worked really well to protect the vulnerable and keep key services running. That’s showed the true spirit of working better together.

“Government financial assistance for councils, businesses and the cultural sector has been vital. All have had to adapt the ways they work in this time and now we are starting to see significant innovation, which bodes well for the future.”

Finally, he commended the success of the vaccination roll-out, insisting that the region would bounce back.

He added: “The success and progress of the vaccination programme and the expansion of testing has increased everyone’s confidence and I am confident that this will be a better year, in which we can start to take significant steps towards economic and social recovery.

“I want to retain the positives of the last year – strong community spirit, effective partnership working and a resilient, responsive economy – so that we can build back better.”

Diss Town Council leader Simon Olander also paid tribute to the town's "unique community spirit". He said: "The Town Council witnessed first-hand many examples of kindness, generosity, and strength in the face of adversity throughout the pandemic.

"Diss’ unique community spirit shone through, from individual acts of kindness to organised programmes of support, the wellbeing of others kept the heart of our town beating hard and strong. "

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