People in Wakefield must take action to stop coronavirus 'spiralling out of control', as new strain of Covid confirmed in West Yorkshire
People in Wakefield and the Five Towns are being urged to take 'immediate action' to slow the spread of Covid-19, as it is confirmed that the new variant of the virus is already present in West Yorkshire.
The new variant, which has been linked to rising infection rates in London and the South East, is considered more dangerous than previous strains of the virus, as it is up to 70 per cent more infectious.
And the region's Local Resilience Forum, West Yorkshire Prepared, which includes representatives from local authorities, emergency services the NHS and more, has now confirmed that the new strain has been reported in West Yorkshire.
Robin Tuddenham, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, said: “It is a very serious and stark situation. At the moment, we have a very small window of time in which to take action – so it is imperative that we act now.
"We’re hopeful the national lockdown has been introduced in time but everyone needs to do even more than they did last March, during the first lockdown, if we’re to prevent infection rates spiralling out of control and our hospitals being pushed to the brink.”
The rate of Covid-19 in the Wakefield district has increased in the last few weeks, and now stands at 291 per 100,000, up from 120 per 100,000 in the week before Christmas.
Since March, 17,726 people in the district have tested positive for the virus, including 1,097 new cases since the start of the month.
Last week, it was confirmed that a mass vaccination centre will open in Wakefield city centre in the coming weeks, to serve alongside vaccinations at local hospitals and GP surgeries.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also confirmed plans to offer every adult in the UK a coronavirus vaccination by autumn of this year.
But people in the district are being urged to act quickly to slow the spread of the virus in the coming weeks.
Councillor Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “The infection rate in the district is unfortunately starting to increase and we are now aware that the new variant is already present in communities in the region.
“We must all take immediate action to protect ourselves and others from the very real threat of COVID-19. It is absolutely crucial for everyone to act now and follow the important guidance and national lockdown restrictions currently in place.
“We must avoid the infection rate increasing rapidly, if we don’t, we will see more hospital admissions and our local NHS services risk being overwhelmed, and inevitably, and sadly, more lives will be lost.
“Although we understand the new strain does not affect people differently, it is spreading at a much faster rate which will severely impact local health services if we don’t do all we can now to limit the spread.”
Tim Kingsman, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Despite the National Restrictions being introduced this week, there are still people flouting the rules and leaving their homes for non-essential reasons.
"Absolutely nobody wants this situation to continue longer than it has to, but that means everyone must pull together.
“West Yorkshire Police will continue to adopt the approach of Encourage, Explain and Engage but we will Enforce where people are flagrantly, blatantly and repeatedly breaking the rules. It is absolutely vital that everyone pulls in the same direction and acts now to prevent the situation worsening further.”
For reliable, up to date information on COVID-19, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.