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Covid cases up by more than 40 per cent in south Norfolk as NHS ramps up vaccination effort

Covid cases have risen by more than 40 per cent across south Norfolk in just a week – as the health service ramps up its booster drive to deal with the exponential growth of the Omicron variant.

Between December 9 and December 15, 713 people returned a confirmed positive test result – an increase of 41.7 per cent more compared to the previous seven days.

Across the border in mid-Suffolk, cases have also risen by almost a third, with 601 people testing positive in the same time frame – a rise of 31.2 per cent on the week prior.

The pace of the booster vaccination roll-out has been ramped up in response to the new Omicron variant.
The pace of the booster vaccination roll-out has been ramped up in response to the new Omicron variant.

In response to the threat of the new variant, many vaccination sites across Norfolk and Waveney are operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with more existing vaccination sites set to join them.

Howard Martin, director of population health management and inequalities at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Our vaccination teams, staff and volunteers are going above and beyond to support the vaccination effort.

“This is a huge and complex challenge, but our incredible NHS staff and volunteers are doing all they can – as they have throughout the pandemic – to ensure we get lifesaving boosters into the arms of people as soon as possible.

“All health and care organisations are redeploying staff and resources to help meet this challenge, with an army of marshals, administrators and vaccinators being recruited to support the next, and most ambitious, phase of this programme.”

Government scientists are working to fully understand the full impact of Omicron, with early research suggesting that booster vaccinations are critical, and the effectiveness greatly increases with a third dose.

The latest vaccination plea comes after the Prime Minister revealed Plan B measures, including face coverings in public indoor venues from Friday and people asked to work from home where possible from Monday.

An NHS Covid pass may also become mandatory in specific settings, meaning visitors will have to show a negative test or full vaccination via the NHS Covid app.

It is not known at this stage if the growth of Omicron cases will result in severe disease, hospitalisation and deaths.

Councils have also stepped in to offset the loss of revenue expected amongst hospitality businesses, as increasing numbers of families cancel their Christmas plans.

Businesses paying business rates in south Norfolk will soon be able to claim up to £2,100 if they believe that loss of group bookings in December 2021 will result in a loss of more than 20 per cent of their anticipated revenue.

Lisa Neal, cabinet member for stronger economy at South Norfolk Council, said: “Our hospitality businesses have been hit harder than most during this pandemic and Christmas should be their busiest and most profitable time of year.

“If bookings are down or have been cancelled because of the new variant, then they should contact us to see if they are eligible for a grant.”

The funding is available to pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, wedding and other function venues generally open to the public. There is also money available to other businesses that are being significantly impacted, including those of a similar nature to the above but not separately rated, those heavily dependent on foreign travel and those directly in the supply chain to the catering industry.

Cllr Neal added: “This is the time when our hospitality businesses usually thrive, catering for office parties, family get-togethers, Christmas drinks, weddings and more. If you are in the hospitality business or are supplying those businesses and have been significantly affected, then please get in touch.”

The funding comes from the Government’s Additional Restrictions Support Grant. More information about the grant and how to apply will be released by the council shortly.

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