Coronavirus cases hit new high in York – and they’re set to rise further

A cyclist rides past York Minster the day after the new lockdown was announced. Photograph: Danny Lawson / PA Wire

York’s coronavirus infection rate has reached its highest recorded level since the start of the pandemic.

Public health bosses warn the infection rate is likely to increase further in the next few weeks before the third national lockdown has an effect.

But the city is ready to vaccinate lots of people quickly once supplies are available, director of public health Sharon Stoltz said.

The rate of new Covid cases for York at January 1 was 490.9 cases per 100,000 – making the city’s rate the highest in the entire Yorkshire and Humber region. The rate tops the city’s previous peak – which was 445 per 100,000 recorded on October 16 2020, according to City of York Council outbreak board papers.

Ms Stoltz said: “We now have the highest rate in the region and I’m expecting that rate to continue to increase over the next seven to 14 days. There’s a time delay before lockdown starts to come into effect.”

She added that the Prime Minister’s decision to order another national lockdown was not unexpected – and that it is the right decision.

“Lockdowns work really well in terms of getting the infection rate down and protecting the NHS but we know that lockdowns are very difficult for many people,” she said.

“They find the lack of social contact and the impact on shops and businesses difficult.

“Any lockdown is a difficult decision. I think it was the right decision. It’s important now that everybody obeys the rules around that so we can get the rate down quickly as possible.”

Ready for the vaccine

Sharon Stoltz, Director for Public Health at City of York Council. Photograph: City of York Council

York is prepared to carry out a high number of covid vaccinations – but Ms Stoltz said staff are currently awaiting supplies of the vaccine.

She said: “The vaccinations in York are going well. There are robust plans in York to scale up the vaccination programme, all the NHS is waiting for now is the supplies of the Oxford vaccine.

“We can only vaccinate as many people as there are vaccines available. There are some logistical issues at the moment. As soon as those vaccine supplies start to come in, we are in a very good position to vaccinate lots of people very quickly and I’m confident that it will be delivered well.”

Amanda Bloor from North Yorkshire clinical commissioning group, told a North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum meeting that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be introduced in York and North Yorkshire by the end of the week.

She added: “We have three type of sites now delivering vaccines over York and North Yorkshire.

“The hospital hub sites, the GP sites and the community sites. We are still assessing whether we will need to create more vaccine sites in the coming weeks as our supply capabilities increase.”

She said the CCG was not able to give local statistics on how many people had been vaccinated, due to government policy.

City of York Council leader Keith Aspden said he wrote to the Secretary of State for Business a week ago to ask that retail, hospitality and cultural sectors are not left out of Government grant support.

When asked about the new national lockdown he said: “It’s not the start to the year that we would have hoped for.

“This is going to be a blow to many businesses and low income residents.”