West Yorkshire Partnerships urge people to make the right decisions ahead of restrictions easing
As the next step of the roadmap out of lockdown is set to come into effect, West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) and West Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) are urging residents to continue to be cautious as restrictions ease.
After a review of the latest data, the Government has agreed to move away from legal restrictions and instead expects people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.
However, case rates across West Yorkshire remain extremely high – higher than the national average - and are continuing to rise across all five local authority areas.
The rises are largely being driven by rapidly increasing rates in younger people, who tend to mix more socially and haven’t, up to recently, been offered the vaccine.
Rates remain lower in the 50+ age group, and the rise in cases in this age group continues to be smaller than in others, thanks to the West Yorkshire Vaccine Programme and community support to do the ‘right thing’.
The number of weekly deaths remains low; however, the number of hospital admissions has started to rise slowly putting additional pressure on hospitals recovering from a backlog of cases.
Residents are being strongly encouraged to have both doses of the vaccine when offered as this offers the best protection against COVID-19.
Rob Webster CBE, CEO for WY&H HCP said: “Good hand hygiene, appropriate mask wearing and common sense will continue to be essential in preventing the virus from getting further out of control. All health and care services across our area are extremely busy and we need to protect these important services if we are to prevent further waves of this pandemic. Lengthy periods of closure have been incredibly tough on our area’s businesses, and we know they will be eager to reopen their doors.
“We all have a responsibility to ensure we make the right decisions to keep everyone safe and especially if we are to return to a new sense of normal for everyone – which includes not living with long-COVID symptoms. People’s chances of having long-COVID are real and could affect people’s lives for the rest of their life. It's extreme in the most disabling way.”
There will be no changes to the expectations for NHS staff to wear appropriate face coverings and social distance where required at work, with the public being encouraged to follow suit when entering a health and care setting.
A number of key agencies, including West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, will also be strongly advising their workforces to continue wearing appropriate COVID-19 PPE where necessary and follow COVID-19 workplace guidance, to protect themselves and the public.
Kersten England CBE, CEO at Bradford Council and Co-chair of the LRF said: “As with previous steps taken to ease restrictions, we must all remember that by reintroducing freedoms into our lives, we are also presenting further opportunities for COVID-19 to spread.
"Everyone has made sacrifices in the fight against the virus, and by being cautious we can continue to protect people’s health and livelihoods. It is essential if we are to prevent future lockdowns. Vaccinations are helping mitigate the impact, but do not remove the risk of serious illness completely. The virus remains with us and it likely, we will have to learn to live with it for a considerable time yet.”
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