Covid: Harrogate infection rate falls to lowest level since September
The coronavirus outbreak in Harrogate has shrunk to levels not seen since September as the nation today takes its first big step out of lockdown with the return of schools and care home visits.
Public Health England figures show the district's weekly rate of new Covid cases per 100,000 people has fallen to 53.5 - and the picture is positive over almost the entire country with the same figure for England standing at 62.
The infection rate in Harrogate is at its lowest level since September and the lockdown has also helped to reduce hospital admissions.
There were 48 coronavirus patients in Harrogate hospital last week - a figure which has seen a gradual decline from the peak of the winter wave, though health officials have warned that the NHS still remains under pressure.
Deaths from coronavirus are also continuing with six reported by the hospital in the last seven days and its toll since the pandemic began currently standing at 166.
It comes as pupils are today beginning a phased return to schools after two months apart from their teachers and classmates.
Care home residents are now also allowed one indoor visitor under the easing of lockdown which will next see up to six people or two households allowed to meet outdoors from 29 March.
Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, said while it is "clearly good news" that infection rates are falling to allow for the lifting of restrictions, there were concerns that some residents were relaxing their behaviours too soon with police last week handing out a record number of fines.
Speaking last week, he said: "To be clear to all those flouting the rules and risking our route out, we remain in lockdown. Stay at home is still the message – the gradual and cautious easing of some restrictions is not an instant free for all.
"We want desperately to see the data allow us to hit those date milestones so we can welcome the world back to North Yorkshire’s fantastic hospitality sector and see our loved ones again.
"But the situation remains delicate, so I implore you to do the right thing for your friends and family and keep going, keep sticking to the rules. Because hard though it is, every day at home, every hand washed, every face covered, every trip not taken is making a difference."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter