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Extra testing rolled out in Norfolk to help prevent spread of coronavirus

11 February 2021

Rapid symptom-free community COVID testing is being rolled out across Norfolk after successful pilots in the east and west of the county.

Mobile testing sites are planned in in King’s Lynn, Hunstanton, north Great Yarmouth, Caister, Hemsby and Scratby next week, with further sites expected to go live in parts of South Norfolk and Norwich towards the end of the week.

Symptom-free residents in these areas will be able to book a COVID-19 test online at www.norfolk.gov.uk/rapidtesting

Residents can also visit the sites during their testing hours without an appointment to request a test.

Further symptom-free testing sites will then roll out across the county in the coming weeks and will be targeted at areas where the virus is spreading or where there is greater risk of transmission. When the future sites are announced, residents in their areas will be made aware and will be able to book via the above link.

Rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests provide results within 30 minutes and are used to proactively test those without symptoms. This helps to identify those who unknowingly have the virus and enable those who test positive and their contacts to self-isolate, which can help drive down the R rate locally and save lives.

Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health for Norfolk, said: “One in three people with coronavirus have no symptoms, which means they can be spreading the virus without knowing. These rapid tests help us to find these people so that we can break the train of transmission.

“We have already piloted the testing in King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth and are now rolling out sites to areas in each district where the virus is most prevalent. The aim is to identify those who might be carrying and spreading the virus without knowing it, so that we can help reduce the spread.

“Although a negative test might provide some reassurance to people, it is not a guarantee that you don’t have the virus, so if you do visit the test centre and the result is negative please do keep following the national restrictions, as well as following the hands, face and space guidelines. This will help further bring down rates of COVID in our county.”

Social distancing and face masks are required at testing sites, except when taking the test. Anyone with symptoms should not use the symptom-free test and should instead book a test via the NHS.

Tests on the site will be self-administered with trained staff from Norse observing to ensure that the correct process is followed. The results will be texted or emailed.

Those who test positive should isolate immediately and work with national or local contact tracers to identify their close contacts. People no longer need a second test to confirm a positive test from a lateral flow test.

A negative COVID test does not mean that someone does not have the virus and those who test negative should continue to follow all of the public health guidelines to protect themselves and others.

Those who have been vaccinated are still eligible for lateral flow testing – this will not affect the results.

Decisions on where community testing should take place are made by clinicians, who will analyse the latest case rates and risks of transmission.

Norfolk’s seven district councils are supporting the roll-out by providing venues and helping to promote the sites locally.

Vaccinations continue across the county

Vaccinations continue to be delivered to priority groups, with 31 sites across Norfolk and Waveney now offering vaccines.

Melanie Craig, Chief Executive, NHS Norfolk & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I am delighted that the vaccination programme across Norfolk & Waveney/North Suffolk continues to go from strength to strength. 

“Based on the latest data available, Norfolk & Waveney is the top performing system in the East of England region in terms of the percentage of over 80s vaccinated and percentage of total adult population vaccinated to date; this is thanks to the hard work and dedication of health and care staff across Norfolk & Waveney and the vital support we have and continue to receive from volunteers, the police, fire service, councils and more.

“The weather this week has been very challenging but this hasn’t impacted the determination and focus of local teams and their drive to vaccinate our patients.

“Despite our continued focus on making sure that as many people as possible receive their first dose, it is vital that people continue to follow the latest coronavirus guidance. Having the first and even second dose of the vaccine doesn’t mean that people can stop following the guidance.”

Latest COVID statistics

Cases, as of the 6 February:

  • There have been 1,760 cases in the seven days up to 6 of February - this is 718 fewer, compared to the same time last week (comparison to 30 January)
  • The seven day incidence rate is 194 per 100,000 - this is a reduction of 79, compared to the week previously (comparison to 30 January)

District incidence levels per 100,000 as of 6 February (and comparison to the same time the previous week, 30 January)

  • Breckland: 195 (down from 315)
  • Broadland: 179 (down from 241)
  • Great Yarmouth: 231 (down from 357)
  • King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: 248 (down from 310)
  • North Norfolk: 109 (down from 137)
  • Norwich: 263 (down from 327)
  • South Norfolk: 116 (down from 209)

Hospital activity:

  • COVID-19 occupied beds: 461 on 9 February - a reduction of 115 compared to this time last week (2 February)
  • Intensive care: 34 on 9 February - a reduction of 30, compared to last week
  • Hospital deaths: 1,372 to 9 February - an increase of 77 compared to last week

Outbreaks as of 10 February (and comparison to the same time last week):

  • 165 Open Outbreaks in care settings (down 3)
  • 67 in businesses (down 2)
  • 41 in education settings (up 6)
  • 35 in health and emergency settings (down 10)

Deaths (registered up to 6 February):

  • Deaths that have occurred up to 29 January that have been registered up to 6 February: 1,544 COVID-19 deaths in Norfolk so far, an increase of 153 deaths compared to last week at 22 January

Vaccination programme update from NHS Norfolk & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group

We now have 31 sites across Norfolk and Waveney offering the vaccines: five ‘hospital hubs’ (including NSFT and NCH&C), 21 PCN sites, four large vaccination centres and one pharmacy

Despite the challenging weather, the Norfolk and Waveney vaccination programme has continued to make rapid progress this week. Thanks to the dedication of vaccination teams, coupled with the help of many people, including council colleagues, the police and the fire and rescue service, there has been very minimal disruption to the programme.

NHSE/I publishes weekly data at system level. This shows that up to Sunday, 31 January: 

  • 22% of our 16+ population had received a first dose of vaccine, putting us third out of the 42 health and care systems in England (the national average was 17.8%)
  • 91% of our over 80s had been vaccinated by Sunday, compared to 88% nationally
  • In the last week alone we have given a further 50,200 doses (across all ages and cohorts)

This makes Norfolk and Waveney the top performing health system in the East of England region in terms of percentage of over 80s vaccinated and percentage of total adult population vaccinated to date. This is despite having the second highest proportion of over 80s in the country (8.4% compared to the national average of 6.2%.). The next data release is due to be published later today

Norfolk and Waveney has offered all of its over 80s, registered with a GP practice, the opportunity to have booked and received their vaccination by 31 January, which was the target set by the Government. The NHS, councils and the voluntary sector have worked closely together to identify, invite and vaccinate health and care workers. We have offered all eligible workers the opportunity to be vaccinated.

We are confident that we have offered everyone in the top four JCVI priority groups the opportunity to have received their first dose of vaccine, where it has been safe to do so.

On Monday, 8 February, the Government announced people aged 70 and over, and those on the shielded patients list, who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 and who would like to be should contact the NHS to arrange a jab.

Until now the NHS has asked people to wait until they are contacted to help ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected first - and that remains the case for most people. However, to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine, people aged 70 and over can now contact the NHS so they can be vaccinated by the middle of this month.

The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. The system allows patients to choose a time slot and location that suits them. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge. If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.

Many who have not yet booked an appointment are already receiving follow up letters and phone calls this week to encourage them to take up the offer of a jab.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme is available on the NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG website

Symptom-free testing locations for next week – 15 to 19 February

King's Lynn: all site operating 10am-4pm:

  • St James Swimming Pool - town, South and West Lynn – Monday to Friday
  • Oasis Leisure Centre - Hunstanton – Monday to Friday
  • Fairstead Community Centre – Monday to Friday

Great Yarmouth:

  • Hawkins Close Community Room - Yarmouth North – Wednesday to Friday. Opening times: Wednesday 12 noon to 7pm, Thursday 7am to 2pm, Friday 8am to 4pm.
  • The Old Hall - Caister on Sea – Monday to Tuesday, 8am to 4pm
  • Village Hall - Hemsby – Tuesday to Wednesday, 8am to 4pm
  • All Saints Village Hall - Scratby – Thursday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

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