Harrogate Covid infections and hospitalisations fall as no Omicron cases detected in district
The rate of Covid infections and hospitalisations in Harrogate has continued to fall as no cases of the new Omicron variant have yet been identified in the district.
Harrogate' s weekly infection rate has been on a downward trend for almost three weeks and currently stands at 438 cases per 100,000 people.
That is below the England average of 478, but above the North Yorkshire figure of 404.
Harrogate District Hospital currently has 12 Covid-positive patients - a figure which has fallen from 25 over the last month.
The hospital last reported a death of a patient who died within 28 days of testing positive on Friday, with its death toll since the pandemic began currently standing at 199.
Speaking at a press conference last week, Richard Flinton, chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, described the emergence of the Omicron variant as a "bump in the road" as he also urged people to be cautious in the run up to Christmas.
He said: "We have got to make sure that we deal with this in a proportionate way and that we don't lose some of the gains that we made over the recent months.
"We do want to make sure that businesses in the county area are able to benefit from Christmas and the public and still be able to have some enjoyment from the coming season.
"But clearly we're going to have to do all that with a heightened degree of awareness."
There are now more than 200 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, and there are warnings it could become the dominant strain within weeks.
Covid rules have been strengthened in response to the newly-identified variant which some scientists believe could be more infectious and cause more serious illness.
However, none of this is certain and it will take time for the true threat from Omicron to be assessed as cases are monitored across the world.
In England, face masks are now compulsory in shops and on public transport, and the booster programme is being expanded to cover millions more adults.
This has meant the NHS is looking at offering vaccinations from more sites including the Yorkshire Event Centre at Harrogate's Yorkshire Showground from today, 6 December.
The site is aiming to deliver around 20,000 jabs before it closes on 22 December, while it is the government's aim to offer boosters to all over-18s by the end of January.
Vaccines are being offered by age groups with priority given to older adults and those in at-risk groups.
Appointments are available through the NHS National Booking Service.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter