Explained: Why Wakefield's Covid infection rate is lower than the rest of West Yorkshire

Huge problems with the Covid testing system, combined with Wakefield's sparse village populations may explain the district's relatively low coronavirus infection rate, it's been suggested.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 5:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 6:00 pm

The latest data suggests just over 27 people per 100,000 are testing positive for Covid. Although the rate has risen sharply over the last fortnight from around 11.9, it remains the lower than anywhere else in West Yorkshire.

Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees are all currently subject to local lockdowns, while Leeds, which isn't, currently has 83 cases per 100,000 people.

New nationwide restrictions were brought in by the government on Tuesday, including a 10pm curfew on pubs.

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Wakefield has just over 27 cases per 100,000 people, according to the latest data.

On a live Q&A session run by Wakefield Council on Tuesday, the district's director for public health, Anna Hartley, said there were potentially several factors behind Wakefield's relatively low rate, including ongoing problems with the testing system.

She said: "What we've seen here is our infection rate are very much the 18 - 35 year-old age group. That's where we've had significant numbers.

"We're currently not seeing that rise reach the older populations. That's great and we want to keep it that way.

"However, I need to be honest and say there's huge issues with the national testing system at the moment and I know tests have been prioritised in areas with higher rates.

Covid test kits have been prioritised in areas with higher infection rates.

"It may be that some of our infections aren't being picked up."

Ms Hartley said the council was powerless to do anything about the national testing system.

But she highlighted an arrangement it's set up with the health group Conexus, which is running a door-to-door testing service as well as a limited number of extra tests at mobile units to try to meet some of the demand.

She added: "The other interesting thing about Covid is you see higher rates in the inner city population.

"We know the vast majority of Wakefield is quite rural - we've lots of villages.

"If you look at our neighbours in North Lincolnshire, they've extremely low rates so it could be in part we're protected by our geographical location."

Wakefield's infection rate is now higher than when it was listed by the government as an "area of concern" during the late summer.

Asked why the district wasn't back on the government watchlist, Ms Hartley said it the Department of Health had had to prioritise other areas with higher rates.

For those struggling to book a Covid test through the national system, email [email protected] or call 01924 224497 to request a test through the local Conexus system.

Local Democracy Reporting Service