Health leaders have today written an open letter to the people of Norfolk urging them to think carefully about their Christmas plans.

The letter acknowledges that the world is facing its biggest health emergency in living memory and that health and social care colleagues have risen admirably to meet this challenge.

But with COVID-19 infection rates rising rapidly and families preparing to meet in bubbles over Christmas, health leaders have taken the unprecedented step of writing an open letter urging residents to think carefully about their Christmas plans and to follow the guidelines to stay well. A similar letter has been sent to residents in Suffolk.

The Norfolk letter has been signed by health leaders at the following organisations:

  • NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust
  • James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust
  • East Coast Community Healthcare CIC
  • Norfolk County Council

The letter states: “The emergence of COVID-19 has confronted our National Health Service and its partners with its biggest challenge for generations.

“Our health and social care colleagues have risen admirably to meet that challenge and continue to do so, despite the incredible strain the virus has placed upon our staff and resources.

“However, this is not a quick win situation. Despite this incredible hard work, infection rates continue to rise and this Christmas – let’s be candid - we have a monumental challenge on our hands. A challenge that can only be won by each of us making further sacrifice.

“Our current infection rate (123 cases per 100,000 people) is more than double where we found ourselves at the start of October (47 cases per 100,000 people). At the beginning of September, there were just 8 cases per 100,000 people. If this current trajectory continues, there will be a significant impact and the situation will go on for much longer.

“Sadly, we no longer have the capacity to lower our guard or lessen our resolve over the festive period. We must continue to live with caution and follow guidance fully.

“We, therefore, ask that you think carefully about your Christmas plans. As Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has already told the nation, one of the best ways to fight this virus is to limit contact with other people, so we ask that you choose your Christmas bubble wisely and stick with that bubble. We also ask that you think twice before seeing your elderly or vulnerable relatives. This is on top of those things we already do well, such as washing hands, wearing a mask and social distancing.”

You can read the letter here.