Council insists work being done to contain huge Covid rates in Hyde Park

One of Leeds City Council’s most senior decision-makers has insisted the authority is doing everything it can to push down infection rates in Hyde Park – despite recent statistics showing it is the area with the highest case rate in the country.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 5:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 6:12 pm

According to the government’s interactive Covid data live map, Hyde Park had a case rate of 1,429.1 per 100,000 people for the seven days to June 16, based on tests carried out in laboratories and in the wider community.

Leeds City Council’s director of public health has said the stats show the need for younger people to get the vaccine, while the council’s portfolio holder for public health Coun Salma Arif said work is being done to contain the spread in the area.

“We found that the rates have significantly increased in 18-24-year-olds,” Coun Arif said. “From our perspective, it’s a combination of things.

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Council health chiefs are encouraging people in Leeds to get vaccinated.
Council health chiefs are encouraging people in Leeds to get vaccinated.

“As restrictions have started to lift, more social contact is happening, we also now have the dominant delta variant, which is far more transmissible.

“Our younger population also hasn’t had the jab – it’s all of that combined.”

Coun Arif insisted the council was responding to the glut of infections, with enhanced testing being done in the Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse, and that a mobile testing unit was operating in the area.

She added: “We are asking the local communities to come out and get testing. People can carry the virus and be asymptomatic, particularly if they are younger.

“We are also doing intensive door knocking – it’s about letting people know that they can get vaccinations.

“It’s a multi-layered approach. Infection rates.”

Covid-19 vaccinations have opened up to those aged 18 and over in the last few days, and Coun Arif says the take-up looks to be positive.

She said: “Anecdotally, young people can’t wait to get their vaccine – it’s early but generally speaking Leeds has a good uptake. It was only the back end of last week that we had 18-plus vaccinations, so we are also getting the message across that people are eligible to get the vaccine.

“We are keeping an eye on hospitalisations – as it stands they are low, but we are keeping a keen eye on the numbers.

“I am responding to what happens today. As the weeks go on, there is a suggestion that cases will continue to rise.

“We need to be more aware that cases are going up. I don’t want to pre-empt what will and what won’t happen, it’s about how we respond to things.”

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of public health, said: “The rise in cases in Leeds is consistent with other cities and the fact that hospitalisations and deaths remain low is an encouraging sign the vaccine is doing its job.

“We must remember any rise in cases carries with it an increased risk among those who are vulnerable or who have not been vaccinated.

“Please remember socialising outside is safest; get a vaccine when offered and also your second dose, follow the rules even if you’ve had a vaccine, please get tested even if you don’t have symptoms and continue washing hands, wearing your mask and socially distancing.”