Residents across Ilkley and Keighley are being urged to take extra steps to minimise the risk of the spread of coronavirus as figures show up to 70% of local cases are from the new strain.
Health officials say that, based on the latest laboratory results of coronavirus tests, it is estimated that between 50% and 70% of positive cases in the Bradford district are now from the new strain.
This new variant is 70% more infectious and has spread rapidly across other parts of country.
The latest weekly figures show that the infection rate in the Bradford district - which includes Ilkley, Keighley, Haworth and Silsden - is 232.5 cases per 100,000 population. That represents a 40% increase on the previous week. There are concerns we are also starting to see an increase in hospital admissions.
Sarah Muckle, Bradford Council’s Director of Public Health said: “We all need to do as much as we can to stem the spread of the new variant and reduce pressures on hospitals and the NHS while they roll out the vaccines. When COVID measures were first introduced we were all very careful about staying safe but now there is a danger that we may have let our standards slip almost a year into this crisis.
“Now is the time to check we are all washing for a full 20 seconds every time we arrive at a new destination, that we are keeping at least two, if not three, metres from people from other households and that we are wearing face masks over the nose and mouth where required. Not only will this help reduce infections and hospital admissions, but it will also help reduce pressure on the NHS so those who need help with medical issues that are not COVID can be seen quicker.
“The Council will be encouraging staff and visitors to adopt three-metre social distancing in all its buildings where possible given the highly infectious nature of the virus.”
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, added: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing the infection rate in the district. We only have a short window of opportunity to slow the rapid increase of the new variant. We’re repeating the message to people to Stay at Home and focus on hands, face, space. The more people do this, the lower the infection rates and the lower the number of deaths we will have from this new variant.
“The vaccinations have started but there is no certainty from Government yet for its steady supply. So in the meantime everyone needs to take responsibility and help the whole community to stay safe.”