7 reasons to feel positive about Covid as we head towards summer

The reopening of pubs to outdoor drinkers does not appear to have led to an increase in coronavirus cases.

The reopening of pubs to outdoor drinkers does not appear to have led to an increase in coronavirus cases. - Credit: PA

While the past 14 months being filled with plenty of misery only broken up with the occasional glimmer of good news, there are finally real reasons to be positive as we head into summer.  

Coronavirus cases are falling and more people are getting their jabs. The lifting of restrictions hasn’t caused a spike or sent us back into lockdown.

And we appear on track to see more of life return to normal with further easing of guidelines next month.

To be clear, this doesn't mean we don't need to exercise caution and still stick to the rules. But there is some genuine good news.

1. Covid deaths are at the lowest rate for months 


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While the Government confirmed a further 22 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 127,502, more than 20 million across England are living in areas with zero deaths.

Fewer than 600 deaths within 28 days of a positive test have been reported so far this month, compared with more than 30,000 in the first four weeks of January.

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No deaths have been reported in April in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and North Norfolk and South Norfolk.

While age-standardised mortality rates for all causes and deaths involving the coronavirus in March and April show every area in Norfolk and Waveney below 25 per 100,000 putting us amongst the lowest in the country.

In Norwich the rate, as recorded by the ONS, was just three per 100,000 people. South Norfolk was also in single figures with a rate of just eight per 100,000.

2. Hospital admission figures continue to fall

This month has continued a steady fall in the number of patients with coronavirus at Norfolk's hospitals.

As of April 27, there were nine Covid patients in beds but there have been no patients in a critical bed since April 6 - the first time in six months

Overall the number of patients in hospitals in England with Covid-19 has dropped to its lowest level for seven months.

A total of 1,310 patients were in hospital at 8am on April 27, according to figures from NHS England. This is the lowest since September 21, and is down 96pc from a record 34,336 on January 18.

In this region the figures were even better having seen its number drop by 97pc.

One big factor may be that only small numbers of people - mainly those frail and elderly and at high risk - have been admitted to hospital with Covid after having one vaccine dose.

Almost a third of adults in Norfolk and Waveney have now received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Almost a third of adults in Norfolk and Waveney have now received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. - Credit: PA

3. Vaccines appear to be working and we’re leading the way

Almost a third of adults in Norfolk and Waveney have now received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. 

According to Public Health England (PHE), 30.6pc of people aged 16 and over in the region have been fully vaccinated - only behind Somerset in terms of the adult population having had their second vaccination.

The region also has the fifth-highest percentage of over-16s who have had their first jab in the country at 68.7pc.

Some 12,207 first doses were given out in the week up to April 25 in Norfolk and Waveney, twice as many given in the previous seven days.

A PHE study has found people who had one dose of vaccine were up to half as likely to pass on the virus, even if they did catch it. A second dose is expected to lead to an even greater reduction.

The amount of deaths has fallen sharply in older people who were the first group to be vaccinated.

4. Return of big events looks to be on track

Boris Johnson will be told next week that social distancing for large events can be dropped from June 21 after initial results from a pilot scheme revealed no spike in infections. 

Scientists advising the government have been closely observing the impact of allowing fans back into venues for sporting events including the FA Cup semi-final and World Snooker Championship.

A packed audience at Norwich Theatre Royal. Theatres, cinemas and live gigs could be a closer to reopening in the summer.

A packed audience at Norwich Theatre Royal. Theatres, cinemas and live gigs could be a closer to reopening in the summer. - Credit: Norwich Theatre Royal

Early data suggests ‘there are some effective ways to manage risk that could remove the need to have social distancing at events’, a source familiar with an interim report told the Telegraph.

With precautions like staggering entries and good ventilation, crowds should be able to return to large events without distancing.

The conclusions will reportedly be framed as an ‘initial view’ from scientists – with further pilot events coming next month. But it is a strong indication that sporting events, theatres and cinemas may be able to welcome back large crowds from June 21 when all remaining social distancing restrictions could be lifted under the final stage in Boris Johnson’s roadmap.

5. Celebrating with loved ones is coming soon

From May 17, groups of up to six people and two households will be allowed to meet indoors, so people can enter each other's homes. 

Weddings, civil partnerships, receptions, wakes, funerals, and other family life milestones events like Bar mitzvahs and christenings will be allowed to be attended by up to 30 people.

This is up from the current number of 15 people, which has prompted many people to postpone weddings and left family members having to watch funerals online.

Bride shows her wedding ring to guests not permitted to be inside after her marriage

Bride shows her wedding ring to guests not permitted to be inside after her marriage with ceremonies capped at a maximum of 30 guests. - Credit: PA

Good progress on reducing Covid infection rates and the vaccine roll-out has prompted calls for these restrictions to be lifted sooner. 

Sir John Hayes, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for funerals and bereavement, said the opening up of funerals and other ‘sacred’ events should take priority over ‘recreational’ occasions such as sports matches.

He stressed: “These are life-altering moments which punctuate and inform every life.”

6. Huge areas of Norfolk have almost no Covid

If you want one simple fact to make you feel better how about that most of Norfolk now has very few cases of coronavirus.

Two thirds of Norfolk neighbourhoods - including vast swathes of rural towns and villages - recorded next to no new cases between April 18-24.

Where there were recorded cases numbers were low. King’s Lynn was highest with 30 cases and six in surrounding areas, followed by 18 in Norwich and four in Costessey, and 15 in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston. Thetford and Wells and Blakeney both saw four cases, Diss and Dereham three.

The county's overall case rate in the seven days up to April 22 was 16.9 cases per 100,000 people, well below the England average of 24.6 and lower than the Eastern region average of 20.6 per 100,000.

The even better news is that these plummeting rates come despite the return of students to schools and the reopening of pubs and restaurants.

7. The next wave may not be as bad as feared

Experts are now projecting a far smaller wave of cases, hospitalisations and deaths in late summer and autumn.

With several assumptions taken into account, including very high vaccine uptake and no waning immunity or escape variants, Imperial College London predicts daily coronavirus deaths will not increase above 100 in an expected third wave.

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school.

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. - Credit: Archant

All the modelling predicts a third wave once the fourth and final stage in lockdown easing has been completed, but with varying degrees of severity.

Most projections for the number of people being hospitalised this winter are now far below the peak seen in January this year. 

Professor Paul Hunter, from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We will have our next phased relaxation in mid-May and see what happens then. 

“The fly in the ointment of course is the new variants and what they will do and I don’t think any of us can be certain about that at the moment.”
 

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