Leeds put on weekly coronavirus watch list after rise in cases 'in different areas of the city'

Leeds Council has confirmed that the city has been put on Public Health England's weekly watch list of areas of concern for coronavirus - with a rise in cases 'in different areas' of Leeds.

By Daniel Sheridan
Friday, 4th September 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 4:29 pm

Visitors to pubs, bars, restaurants and social gatherings in Leeds are being urged by the council to do their bit to keep the city safe following a rise in cases of coronavirus.

Ahead of the weekend, public health officials, council leaders and partners are reminding those going out to eat and drink or to attend any social gatherings about the important part they’ll be playing in avoiding any further restrictions being put in place across the city.

Earlier today (Sep 4), Leeds was also added to Public Health England’s weekly watch list of areas of concern for COVID-19, the council confirmed.

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Coronavirus testing

The latest seven-day infection figures show Leeds as having a rate of 32.4 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate on testing of 3.5 per cent.

The latest data suggests that a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities.

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of Public Health said: “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of collective determination from people in Leeds to keep their city and each other safe through this crisis.

“Now it’s more important than ever that we all dig deep and do what we can to reverse this upward trend in our infection rates and curtail the spread of the virus.”

The spread is broad and changeable across wards and cases have also been increasingly detected in younger people aged 18-34, with some concern over activities like house parties and gatherings.

While being on the list will not mean any further restrictions on the city at this stage, it does mean increased monitoring of cases and potential additional steps in future if the city’s infection rates do not start to fall.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the Outbreak Control Board, said: “We have been working tirelessly with our partners and communities, doing everything within our power to keep the spread of this virus under control and to ensure Leeds stays open.

“However, we can’t accomplish that alone and this rise in infection rates means that inevitably, our window of opportunity is shrinking by the day and the city is rapidly approaching a tipping point.

“We completely understand that these past six months have put a tremendous strain on everyone in Leeds and that being able to get out, socialise and enjoy ourselves has provided a massive lift.

“But it is absolutely crucial that if we want to continue to do that, we all do it sensibly and responsibly and follow the latest guidance which is there to keep us all safe.”

Today (September 4), Rachel Reeves MP for Leeds West said Leeds had now been named an "area of concern" by the government.

She said the significant rise puts Leeds in the top 20 areas in the country.

In a statement published on social media, she said: "The cases are spread widely across the city and are not confined to any specific area.

"Being named as an area of concern does not mean any extra local restrictions on movement, but there is a risk that could happen if the infection rate continues to rise.

"Public Health England and Leeds City Council are closely monitoring the situation.

"They are taking targeted action to try to cut the number of cases, including measures such as additional testing for the virus in care homes and the local community.

"The council is also working with NHS Test and Trace colleagues on additional measures that can be taken.

"These are likely to include more mobile testing units in the city and a door-to-door campaign in areas with high number of cases, as well as work with bars, restaurants and other venues to stress the importance of following Test and Trace guidelines.

"The council will continue to work with West Yorkshire Police and community groups to discourage gatherings and house parties which increase the rise of the virus spreading.

"The council has also produced communication resources and videos that have been translated into several languages to support the keep safe messages.

"It’s more important than ever that we all regularly wash our hands and that people with symptoms get tested and self isolate if their test results are positive.

"Testing in the Leeds West area will be available over the weekend at Bramley Housing Office on Town Street, Bramley.

"You can book an appointment by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or you can call 119. Please stay safe and do observe the guidelines on social distancing."

Other MPs and councillors have also taken to social media to advise residents.

Neil Walshaw, councillor for Headingley & Hyde Park, said there is a 'possibility for local lockdown' in the city.

He added: "SUPER IMPORTANT URGENT PUBLIC HEALTH MESSAGE REGARDING COVID-19 CORONA VIRUS

"Cases of Covid-19 are rising in Leeds. We are now on the Government Watch List.

"THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF A LOCAL LOCKDOWN FOR LEEDS.

"EVERYONE PLEASE DO ALL YOU CAN TO PREVENT THIS HAPPENING!!"

People in Leeds can play their part by following the following key advice when meeting people they don’t live with:

> Only socialise indoors with members of up to two households ‒ this includes when dining out or going to the pub.

> Socialise outdoors in a group of up to six people from different households or up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household).

> Don’t hold or attend celebrations (such as parties) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction.

> Only stay overnight with your household (including your support bubble) and one other household.

> Limit social interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship

> Try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time.

For more details about outbreak planning in Leeds and steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please visit: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/managing-coronavirus-in-leeds