Covid warning: new strain heading North Yorkshire's way 'with some speed'

Health bosses have warned that the new strain of coronavirus is likely to hit North Yorkshire sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 12:05 pm

With hopes of a normal Christmas scuppered by a last-minute Government U-turn as the virus surges nationally, officials from North Yorkshire say there needs to be an urgent rethink of how people celebrate Christmas Day - even in areas such as Harrogate where infection rates are lower than elsewhere.

Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director of Health and Adult Services, urged the public to show “extreme caution”.

“The new strain of Covid is coming north with some speed," warn health officials in North Yorkshire.

He said: “The new strain of Covid is coming north with some speed. It will most likely reach our own county very shortly. The virus is spreading through household transmission. We need to take great care when social mixing even on Christmas Day itself.”

There is no evidence that the new 'mutant' strain is any more dangerous than the original strain of Covid-19; most viruses mutate, including the flu.

Although increasing again, figures for Harrogate and most districts, with the notable exception of Scarborough which is causing the authorities real concern, remain relatively low.

But such are the fears of the rising trend and potential overload of NHS facilities, the county council is moving towards a tougher approach.

Students in North Yorkshire will now have a staggered return after Christmas with secondary schools and colleges not back until a week later than planned on January 11.

Although the county council has not yet banned visits to care homes, it is now advising relatives to think twice.

Richard Webb said: “We don’t want the new strain rampaging through our care homes and hospitals. We all need to follow the rules and keep each other safe.”

Genomic researchers have found that the new Covid variant has already spread across the UK, with cases identified in Wales and Scotland, as well as the south of England.

The Government's Covid operations committee is to meet today, Wednesday, chaired by Boris Johnson, to consider the latest data on the spread of the virus, after the UK recorded its highest daily increase in cases.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has already warned that tougher Tier 4 lockdown measures could be extended to more parts of England from Boxing Day.

The vaccine and more testing may be coming but the message from the authorities is now less than festive in the build-up to Christmas.

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