BRADFORD residents have been urged to stay at home after the latest figures on Covid-19 showed that the infection rate for Yorkshire and the North East was the highest in England.

The 'r' figure for the region was 0.8, double the figure for London, meaning that for every 10 people who have coronavirus, the infection is currently being transmitted to eight more.

Public health experts today called for people to observe the strict lockdown for longer and still Stay At Home – going further than the Government’s current message merely asking people to “Stay Alert”.

The Prime Minister announced on Sunday that rules regarding exercise, travel, work and shopping were being eased. This week saw a number of car parks at beauty spots in the district open for the first time since lockdown, as well as several local tips.

The Government’s repeated objective has been to get the rate of infection below 1.0 before any revisions of lockdown would be considered.

The 'r' rate is important because it determines the level of lockdown on the Government's Covid Alert Scheme grading and could mean the region could be subjected to stricter rules again.

Bradford Council’s public health experts say it is important not to divert from the original “Stay Home” message until the region starts to see a bigger decline in the spread of infections.

Bradford’s Director of Public Health Sarah Muckle said: “We are determined to take whatever proactive steps we can to protect our community and keep people safe and well, and that includes maintaining our ‘stay home’ focus.

“We were concerned that some people may interpret this week’s gradual relaxing of lockdown measures to think that lives have gone back to normal – but they have not.

“Stay home as much as possible, and stay safe, remains very much the right message for our community right now.

“It is a clear message that is commonly understood, and puts us in the best possible position to continue to reduce the health risk from this infection.

“It is vital that we all continue to follow it, especially with the forecast of a dry and warm week ahead, and work together to lower the risk of people spreading or catching the virus.

“To protect our community, it’s a message that will stay in force until our infection rate starts to come down to the levels that other parts of the country are now witnessing.”

As of Friday there have been 1,128 confirmed cases and 415 deaths relating to Covid-19 in the Bradford district.

A total of 371 people have been discharged by doctors and nurses from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after being successfully treated for Covid-19, while 190 have so far returned home from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust after recovering from the virus.

Council Leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said: "Despite the easing of restrictions, we’re not back to normal. Looking at the latest death statistics infection rates are still high. Every single one of these deaths is a family tragedy and we’re all working hard to prevent more.

"It’s absolutely vital therefore that we must all still take responsibility for preventing the spread of the virus to save lives. The single most important thing any of us can do to help is still to Stay At Home wherever possible and I urge everyone to do so. If people have to leave home then they should follow Government guidelines on how to stay safe outside.

"Reports are that coronavirus is persisting and accounting for more hospital admissions and deaths in some parts of the country than others. Yorkshire and the North East appears to be one of the most badly affected areas."

  • Read Coun Hinchcliffe's full column in Monday's Telegraph & Argus