THE new strain of Covid 19 is responsible for between 50 and 70 per cent of new cases in Bradford - it has been revealed.

The spread of the strain has led to Bradford Council’s public health department urging the public to stick to lockdown measures, and saying the District’s residents “may have let standards slip” almost a year into the pandemic.

Public health yesterday put out a statement asking residents to take “extra steps” to minimise their risk from the new variant, which was identified late last year and is 50 per cent more infectious than the strain that began spreading around the world in early 2020.

The Council is also asking staff and visitors to remain three metres apart when in Council buildings, more than the original two metre distance suggested by the Government during the first lockdown in March.

The statement said: “Based on the latest laboratory results of Coronavirus tests, it is estimated that between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of positive cases in the district are now from the new strain.

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“This new variant is 50 per cent more infectious and has spread rapidly across other parts of country. Bradford Council is keen to make sure residents are aware of what they can do to reduce its effect on people in the district.

“Overall, infection rates are starting to rise again locally and the increase in new variant cases suggests they will continue to rise for a period.

"The latest weekly figures saw the district’s infection rate at 232.5 cases per 100,000 population, a 40 per cent increase on the previous week."

Concerns have also been raised about an increase in hospital admissions locally.

Sarah Muckle, Bradford Council’s Director of Public Health said: “We all need to do as much as we can to stem the spread of the new variant and reduce pressures on hospitals and the NHS while they roll out the vaccines.

“When Covid measures were first introduced we were all very careful about staying safe but now there is a danger that we may have let our standards slip almost a year into this crisis.

“Now is the time to check we are all washing our hands for a full 20 seconds every time we arrive at a new destination, that we are keeping at least two, if not three, metres from people from other households and that we are wearing face masks over the nose and mouth where required.

“Not only will this help reduce infections and hospital admissions, but it will also help reduce pressure on the NHS so those who need help with medical issues that are not Covid can be seen quicker.

“The Council will be encouraging staff and visitors to adopt three-metre social distancing in all its buildings where possible given the highly infectious nature of the virus.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing the infection rate in the district. We only have a short window of opportunity to slow the rapid increase of the new variant. We’re repeating the message to people to Stay at Home and focus on hands, face, space. The more people do this, the lower the infection rates and the lower the number of deaths we will have from this new variant.

“The vaccinations have started but there is no certainty from Government yet for its steady supply.

“So in the meantime everyone needs to take responsibility and help the whole community to stay safe.”