Analysis: What could Banham Poultry’s coronavirus outbreak mean for Norfolk?
PUBLISHED: 17:12 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:28 27 August 2020
News of the coronavirus outbreak at Banham Poultry may on the surface appear alarming, particularly after it emerged almost 50 people have tested positive out of the 300 tests carried out.
It is a reminder of how quickly the virus can spread - what began as seven positive tests has grown to 46, so it is easy to understand how nerves may be starting to fray.
But just how significant is this outbreak, and what could it mean going forward for Norfolk?
One thing to remember is that this is just one outbreak at one factory, so in the context of the whole county it could very well prove to be a drop in the ocean.
Since the pandemic began, Norfolk has been one of the parts of the country that has seen the fewest number of cases and deaths from Covid-19.
In Breckland, the district Banham Poultry is in, the current rate of infection is just over six cases per 100,000 people. This is way below the rate of Blackburn, currently the worst hit part of the country with a rate of 54.8 cases per 100,000.
This week, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital reported its first case since June 8. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has seen no active coronavirus cases for nearly a month, while the last reported positive admission at the James Paget University Hospital was on July 10.
Of course, a lot does depend on the commutes of the workers of Banham Poultry and how quickly this has been brought under control. The proof may now well be in the pudding of the track and trace system.
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It is far better that as many people as possible are tested and are isolated to contain this outbreak.
While it remains to be seen what happens next, we can look to other parts of the country to see how similar situations have been monitored and addressed.
A pertinent question is that whether this outbreak could leave Norfolk looking at a local lockdown.
However, in Northampton, close to 300 workers at a sandwich factory tested positive two weeks ago - six times the number of current confirmed cases at Banham.
While it resulted in the town being placed on Public Health England’s watchlist, it has not been put into the same local lockdown that Leicestershire was in July.
Clearly it is a situation that needs to be monitored closely and particularly by those who know they have tested positive, who have a moral duty to self-isolate, keep those around them informed and to stay out of contact with others.
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