‘We are winning the vaccinations race’, claims Leeds Council chief

‘It’s going well but we are not going to rush it.’

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:43 pm

That’s the message from senior figures at Leeds City Council this week, as the country unites to mark one year since the first Covid-19 lockdown began.

A press conference held this afternoon confirmed that the number of over 60s in Leeds suffering from Covid-19 infections has been falling week-by-week, meaning the city’s hospitals are no longer facing the difficulties they once were.

The city’s top civil servant added that the ‘roadmap’ for exiting lockdown was still on track, and that the quicker more people can get vaccinated, the more likely it is that life can return to normal.

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Tom Riordan has said there is reason to be optimistic over Covid.

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: “We reflect on a year that has probably been the most challenging of all our working lives, those of us who didn’t work during the war. I have sincere condolences with families who have lost loved ones.

“We can look forward with more optimism than we did this time last year. The race to get injections to beat infections is probably a race we are winning at the moment in the city. That is due to the massive team effort that is going on.”

The council’s director of public health, Victoria Eaton, said infection rates in the over 60s were falling and staying down, and that this reduces the pressure on hospitals.

“They are falling by around a quarter week on week and they are staying down,” she said. “This is really important, as it reduces pressure on hospitals, which is so critical for us.

“This is directly feeding into an improving picture in the hospitals. We have broken the link between the infection rates feeding into hospitals.

“It is going well but we are not there yet. We need to work through this steadily and not rush.”

Meanwhile, council leader James Lewis reflected on the many changes that the last year has brought for people in their personal lives and working lives.

He said: “We have seen a lot of restrictions I don’t think anyone imagined we’d see in this country.”

Coun Lewis also praised the “really impressive operation” at the Elland Eoad vaccination site.

“We need to make sure nobody is left behind by the vaccinations,” he said.

“We know the virus is going to be with us for a long while. I don’t want there to be groups of people in Leeds we’ve not been able to reach with the vaccine.

“It’s so important to be making sure that as a city we move forward together.”

Mr Riordan said the council was waiting for confirmation that March 29 will be the date that the rule of six is implemented, to allow people to meet outdoors, adding: “We are working closely with the hospitality and retail industry for reopening around April and May, with a complete reopening, hopefully, in June.”

On the upcoming local and mayoral elections on May 6, he added that the sites of 70 polling stations in the city had changed. He said those who wanted to vote in person should check their polling cards for the location.