A further update from leader of Bradford Council Susan Hinchcliffe on infection rates and testing.

Dear All,

I hope you are all well.

High infection rates in Bradford district

You will have seen the press release earlier today about Bradford having the second highest infection rates in the country. Leicester is a long way ahead of us with many more infections and a rising number of them but nevertheless our numbers are high too with Barnsley, Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Doncaster (not necessarily in that order) not far behind us. We’ve been asking Government for data for a long time now, not just us, but the whole local government sector. In the last few days we’ve now got a lot more data than we’ve ever had before. It all comes through Public Health England who also own the data and will not allow it to be shared. Looking at our testing rates over the last 30 days we’ve tested more people in the district than any other local authority area in Yorkshire & Humber and the North East. Having Marley Fields gives us some control to prioritise frontline care workers through that testing site which might contribute to some of the high infection rate being measured but doesn’t account for all of it. The new testing site opened today in Centenary Square, run through the national government testing programme and put up by Deloitte. This will be open 8-8 7 days a week (the first two days it will shut at 5ish, Friday is the first 8-8 day) and will help us increase the levels of testing even further.

This week’s data shows that our infection rates are coming down but they are still high. In the daily calls Sarah Muckle is having with Public Health England they are saying that we do not need to go into local lockdown. However we all know just how infectious this virus is, it doesn’t take a lot for it to start accelerating again and obviously this weekend’s easing of lockdown does concern me. We must reiterate the messages about staying at home whenever possible, staying 2 metres apart and washing your hands. We must re-double our efforts. Our Public Health team is still crunching the data and I will share as much as we can when and if we’re permitted to do so.

These are just some of the things we’ve been doing over the last few months to stress to our residents how important it is to stay apart and safe:

Garden gate and street level engagement in vulnerable communities and neighbourhoods
Production of advice and guidance for large multi generational households – in community languages
Widespread of video and whatsapp using clinicians and those with lived experience also in community languages
Street level advice and guidance to small retailers and take aways
Marking of public realm in suburban as well city and town centre retail streets
Drafting of guidance with faith communities – with council for Mosques, Gurdwaras, Temples and Churches
Deployment of youth workers across District in areas where young people congregate
Rapid installation of walk in test centre and exploration of testing via community anchors linked to our primary care networks
Repeat testing of social care staff and residents in care settings
Direct work with food manufacturers, shopping centres etc
Continuous work by our Covid Scientific Advisory Group which includes epidemiologists and clinicians experienced in pandemic situations

But clearly we must re-double our efforts.

Hospital Visiting
The BRI and Airedale Hospital continue to follow the same visitor policy and have no intention of changing this policy at the moment. Bradford Royal Infirmary’s COVID admittances have gone down and plateaued but they have not gone down to the same level as other hospitals in the region and therefore you can understand why they want to maintain a strict visitor policy. One thing they have now introduced is if patients have been in hospital for 21 days then they are inviting one member of the family only to visit for an hour twice a week. Obviously the same access to visiting for seriously ill and end of life patients applies. The hospital will proactively contact the family to make this arrangement.

Best wishes

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