Leeds now area of concern as local lockdown restrictions loom

Leeds has been added to Public Health England’s weekly watch list of “areas of concern”, the city’s council has confirmed.

It follows an increase in the rate of infection for Covid-19 in the city, with the latest seven-day infection figures revealing a rate of 32.4 cases per 100,000 people and 3.5 per cent of those tested now coming back positive.

“The latest data suggests that a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities,” the council said in a statement.

“The spread is broad and changeable across wards, and cases have also been increasingly detected in younger people aged 18 to 34, with some concern over activities like house parties and gatherings.”

Although no fresh restrictions have yet been announced, the leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, warned the city was approaching a “tipping point” on Friday.

“We have been working tirelessly with our partners and communities, doing everything within our power to keep the spread of this virus under control and to ensure Leeds stays open.

“However, we can’t accomplish that alone and this rise in infection rates means that inevitably, our window of opportunity is shrinking by the day and the city is rapidly approaching a tipping point.”

Ahead of the weekend, council officials said it was important younger people did not get complacent and spread the virus by congregating for parties and other large gatherings.

The warning comes after West Yorkshire Police said it closed down illegal gatherings, including a large group in the Potternewton Park area, over the Bank Holiday weekend. Fines were also issued to eight people for holding parties in the Headingley and Burley areas of Leeds.

“We completely understand that these past six months have put a tremendous strain on everyone in Leeds and that being able to get out, socialise and enjoy ourselves has provided a massive lift,” Ms Blake said.

“But it is absolutely crucial that if we want to continue to do that, we all do it sensibly and responsibly and follow the latest guidance which is there to keep us all safe.”

Rachel Reeves, one of the city’s MPs, said in a tweet: “Leeds is now an ‘area of concern’ after a rise in coronavirus cases across the city. It’s vital we social distance, wear face masks where required, regularly wash our hands and if you have symptoms get tested & self-isolate if needed.”

The council reminded residents in Leeds to follow key advice, including self-isolating if they or anyone in their household has symptoms of coronavirus, practising social distancing, wearing a face mask in indoor areas and washing hands regularly.

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of public health, emphasised the importance of following the latest guidance, adding: “It’s imperative that we do all we can to contain the spread of this virus and protect one another at this crucial time for the city.

“Using the latest data and intelligence, our local and national systems are working together to help us track and trace the spread of Covid-19 in Leeds as efficiently as possible.”

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