"We are seeing a very human tragedy" - council bosses speak out over coronavirus heartbreak

The city has come together in a "typical Leeds effort" to help each other deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

By Emma Ryan
Thursday, 30th April 2020, 6:00 am

From bins being collected to schools remaining open, praise has been heaped on Leeds City Council staff, the public, volunteers, the NHS, private sector organisations and charities for getting Leeds to where it is today.

A press conference was called last night by Leeds City Council to give an update on the current statistics for the city, new testing regimes and some of the day to day work that continues to take place behind the scenes.

Data released by the council reveals that since the coronavirus restrictions came into place, more than 1.5m house-hold wheelie-bins have been collected, more than 5,000 food parcels have been distributed in less than a month to vulnerable people as part of an unprecedented emergency food distribution programme, 6,500 free school meals are being delivered daily, 8,000 volunteers have registered to help through the Voluntary Action Leeds programme and more than 200 schools are continuing to provide for key worker children.

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An empty Leeds city centre as people stay at home.

The chief executive of the authority, Tom Riordan, said: "All of us are saying what a very human tragedy this is. We are asking people to step up and do a job when they are suffering a bereavement themselves or worried about loved ones and we massively appreciate that.

"We thank council staff who have done a brilliant job, members of the public, volunteers, the NHS, the private sector and charities - it has been a typically Leeds effort to get us to where we are."

In the city there were 1,273 Covid-19 cases reported by Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust (LTHT) as of 6pm on Monday. By Tuesday evening, it had been confirmed that there have been 358 covid-19 related deaths registered so far in Leeds since March 27, Of those 347 (97 per cent) were Leeds residents, 215 (60 per cent) were in hospitals, 114 (32 per cent) were in care homes, nine (three per cent) in a hospice, and 20 (six per cent) in their own home.

Leeds City Council added that to date, 33 per cent of all deaths registered have been identified as covid-19 related.

Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake.

It was also announced at last night's press conference that within days the city's scope for testing at the temporary site at Temple Green would be increased from 500 to 1,000 tests per day.

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She said: "We want to express our sincere thanks to everyone across the city and beyond who have come together in such a remarkable way and we are just in awe at some of the contributions that have been made and people going above and beyond.

"Through everything we do, we have this enormous sadness and need to express our condolences to all that have lost loved ones and people that are deeply affected by this crisis.

"When we have unprecedented circumstances or difficult situations, we know that in all communities, local authorities really step up and provide the leadership. I really do believe in these situations, that local government is the fourth emergency service. I am very proud of the staff at the council with everything they have done.

"It seems we get new information, new challenges daily and it is no exaggeration that the reason that we have been able cope is the depth of the relationships and partnerships that we have across the city. Local knowledge has helped us respond in the way that we have been able to."

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