Wakefield declared area of concern as Covid-19 cases continue to rise
People in Wakefield have been warned that they 'all need to play their part' in slowing the spread of Covid-19, as the district is formally declared an area of concern.
The announcement this afternoon means that the district has been added to the government's formal watchlist, which highlights the "local authorities of greatest concern".
However, no local lockdown rules have been introduced, meaning Wakefield remains the only area of West Yorkshire which is not facing additional restrictions.
The rate of cases in Wakefield has now risen to 69.3 per 100,000, above the national average of 55 per 100,000.
Councillor Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “It is crucial that everyone must act now and follow the important guidance in place. We all need to play our part to protect not only ourselves, but all of those around us, from this virus.
"If we don’t, the harsh reality is that it will affect others, causing more infections, more hospital admissions and inevitably and sadly more deaths.
“With such a serious increase in cases, tighter lockdown measures will soon be unavoidable unless we all continue play our part.
"So I urge everyone to please remember the simple steps of hand washing regularly, wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing and limiting our contact with those outside of our household.”
It is the second time that Wakefield has been declared an area of concern, and follows a warning from the council earlier this week that "the situation is very grave."
What is an area of concern?
Under current Public Health England guidelines, local authorities included on the watchlist can be classified as areas of concern, areas for enhanced support or areas of intervention.
Areas of concern are those with high case rates, where local actions, such as increased testing, are in place.
Areas of enhanced support are those deemed to be at medium or high risk, with additional resources, such as mobile testing capacity, provided.
Areas of intervention are those authorities where there is "divergence from the measures in place in the rest of England" - or, in simpler terms, areas in local lockdown.
At present, Leeds, Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford are all deemed areas of intervention, and local lockdown restrictions are in place.Why are Wakefield's cases rising?
In line with the rest of the UK, Wakefield has reported an increasing number of new cases over the last few weeks.
More than 680 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the district in September, bringing the total confirmed cases to more than 2,816.
A number of local outbreaks, including 17 cases at a secondary school and at least 20 cases in the community in Ossett, are also likely to have contributed to the spread.
Anyone displaying coronavirus symptoms – of a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell - is urged to get a test by accessing local testing or by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.