Covid responsible for half of all deaths in worst hit areas of Norfolk

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in Manchester, in the final week of a four

A man walks past a poster in the window of a Primark shop in the final week of a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. - Credit: PA

Almost half of all deaths between March and December last year in Norfolk's worst hit neighbourhoods were from coronavirus. 

ONS data shows the virus was responsible for 802 deaths in the region – 8pc of the 10,442 deaths recorded.

The highest Covid death toll came in Swaffham, where 26 people died. In all, 123 people in the town died during the same period, meaning the virus was responsible for 21pc of deaths.

That percentage was even higher in the Hempnall, Ditchingham & Wortwell area of South Norfolk, where 21 people lost their lives to the virus – 46pc of the total form the area.

North Walsham and Downham Market saw 19 Covid deaths apiece– 24pc and 18pc of the total recorded deaths respectively, while Beccles in Waveney saw 18 deaths – 36pc of the total.

Beccles GP and chair of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee Tim Morton said areas with a higher proportion of elderly people and a greater concentration of care homes were likely to have fared worse during the pandemic.

“What we know about Covid is that the elderly are particularly susceptible, and while it’s hard to draw conclusions from such a short period of time, the figures do not surprise me."

Dr Tim Morton, chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, and a GP in Beccles.

Dr Tim Morton, chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, and a GP in Beccles. - Credit: Archant

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Population statistics from Norfolk Insight seem to back this up. The five areas named above with the most Covid deaths all had a higher proportion of people over the age of 65 than the Norfolk average of 24.5pc.

Breckland independent councillor for Swaffham, David Wickerson, agreed that the town’s demographics were likely to have played a part in its high number of deaths, with 33.7pc of people in the town over the age of 65.

He pointed to the neighbouring town of Watton, which has a younger population and only recorded three Covid deaths last year.

“The other factor is the number of care homes we have in the town,” he added. “There are at least four large care homes here, and I think those two factors combined could probably explain the numbers which, unfortunately, are not entirely surprising.”

The data reveals only two out of 125 neighbourhoods in Norfolk managed to escape last year with no Covid deaths – Melton Constable in North Norfolk and Town Close in Norwich.

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