Leeds to pause for minute's silence in memory of lives lost to Covid in national day of reflection

Leeds will pause on Tuesday in remembrance of those who have died during the pandemic as part of a national day of reflection.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:20 am

A minute’s silence will be held at 12pm followed by a bell toll, and people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.

The Prime Minister has offered his condolences to those bereaved during the coronavirus pandemic and praised the “great spirit” shown during the past year on the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

More than 250 organisations are supporting the day of reflection, including 82 leaders from religious groups and cross-party politicians, care organisations, charities, businesses, emergency services, public sector bodies and community groups.

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Buildings across Leeds were lit up in blue and yellow in January to remember lives lost to Covid
Buildings across Leeds were lit up in blue and yellow in January to remember lives lost to Covid

Mr Johnson, who will observe the minute’s silence privately, said: “The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all, and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history.

“We should also remember the great spirit shown by our nation over this past year. We have all played our part, whether it’s working on the front line as a nurse or carer, working on vaccine development and supply, helping to get that jab into arms, home schooling your children, or just by staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all.”

People are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with phones, candles and torches to signify a “beacon of remembrance”

According to the latest available data from the Office for National Statistics, there have been 1,619 deaths in Leeds where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate as of Tuesday.

Across the UK, 147,681 deaths have now occurred where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Health Foundation calculates that those who died with Covid-19 have lost up to 10 years of life on average, with a total of up to 1.5 million potential years of life lost.

Susan Hopkins, Public Health England strategic response director for Covid-19, said: “This virus has left no one untouched and it has been the most challenging time both personally and professionally that many of us have ever faced.

“I want to say thank you today to all the public health professionals and key workers who have worked long and difficult hours to help keep the country safe. The commitment you have shown is an inspiration to us all.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, added: “Today we reflect on what has been a terrible year for our country and the huge sacrifices the British people have made.

“Our thoughts in particular are with those families who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus and will still be grieving.

“As we reflect on the past year, we owe it to those whose lives have been lost to learn the lessons from the pandemic and to build a stronger more secure future for our country. A public inquiry into the pandemic will be key to this.”

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