TODAY marks one year since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the Bradford district.

On March 1, 2020, a woman in her 50s from the Ilkley area became the first known case of Coronavirus in the district.

The woman developed symptoms of the virus after returning home from a family holiday in Italy, and drove herself to hospital to be tested before self-isolating at home with her family.

At this time, there had been just a handful of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK, and signalled the arrival of the deadly virus in Bradford.

There was much uncertainty at that time about how severe the virus was and how bad it’s spread would be, but now 12 months on everybody in Bradford and the rest of Britain knows just how serious coronavirus is and how much of a devastating impact it has had on the country, and the whole world.

A year on from the first case, there have now been more than 1,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the district and more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

Around 4,800 people have also been hospitalised during the pandemic with the virus.

Ilkley & Ben Rhydding has been one of the hardest hit areas in the district, with 50 deaths from Covid-19, which is due in part to the number of residential homes in the area.

The town’s population has a much older average age than the rest of the district, and the elderly have been worst affected by the virus.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ilkley, Independent) said: “The past year has been quite horrendous for so many people and I have great sympathy for every family affected by Covid-19.

“I’m concerned about the impact that isolation and loneliness has had on people’s mental health, but there has been a lot of Zoom events in Ilkley to keep people in touch and feel as one.

“There has also been the impact on children, but schools in Ilkley put in a lot of effort on remote and home learning, and the many hospitality businesses in the town centre who will be praying for the time they can reopen again.

“This pandemic will never be forgotten and we’ll feel its impact for many years to come. Things will never return to normal.

“I was watching a programme on the Middle Ages, talking about the Black Death, and that had a profound impact for centuries, and I think this will be similar I’m afraid.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “I remember distinctly this time last year when the news came through that the first case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the district.

"You only needed to watch the international news to know that other countries across the world were already in crisis, trying to control the virus, to know what this first case meant.

"Almost 45,000 cases and 1,163 deaths later, we’ve all been through a lot.

“It’s been unlike anything we have lived through before. We have all made sacrifices to help our family, neighbours, work colleagues and communities.

"I said from the outset that the number one priority was the preservation of life, and that remains our focus to this day.

“Despite this, many people in our communities have lost family members and friends, and people have faced hardships, lost their jobs, and livelihoods.

“But, through it all, I have been heartened by the caring folk of Bradford district, the community spirit and kindness shown and the strength of character we have.  We’re made of stern stuff.

“I cannot thank enough those in the council, health workers, voluntary and charitable organisations, care home workers, teachers - and many more people than I could mention - who have worked tirelessly to support those in need and continue to do so. Many are exhausted but carry on for the love of the place and people they serve.”

The positive news of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the district is providing a light at the end of the tunnel and a route out of the pandemic.

Almost 90 per cent of all over 65s in the district have had at least once jab so far, with 30 per cent of all Bradford adults vaccinated.

With it’s older demographic, Ilkley & Ben Rhydding has seen the most people vaccinated than any other area in the district - 4,777 - and more than 500 over 70s have had the jab than the next highest area of Steeton & Silsden.

Cllr Hawkesworth added: “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Yes please’, they can’t wait to get their jab.

“It gives security and the hope things can move on in the summer, and I will feel a lot more secure once everyone has had their second jab.

“But the important thing is we cannot be complacent now. It’s still out there, taking people’s lives, so we must remain vigilant.”

Susan Hinchcliffe added: “As we look back on the last year, we’re also planning ahead.

"There is much more work that we still have to do to enable us to get closer to the life we left twelve months ago.

“The vaccine is making a difference and communities are responding well when they get their invitations.

“But infection rates haven’t fallen enough and we must stay vigilant and keep going with the key actions that will help reduce the risks of COVID-19: washing our hands every time we go somewhere or get home; using a face covering when shopping or near crowded areas; keeping at least twi metres away from others where possible. We must protect each other.

“I’m convinced that a better tomorrow is round the corner. The council is preparing for that tomorrow by planning investment in catch up classes for children, jobs programmes for those unemployed and more support for people suffering from mental health issues.

"But in the meantime let’s all play our part to keep the infection rate down whilst the vaccines are delivered. These hard times will pass.”