'Major Incident' status no longer declared in West Yorkshire but public warned to remain vigilant against Covid-19 threat

A 'Major Incident' that was declared across West Yorkshire at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has today been stood down.

West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF), announced it will be standing down the ‘Major Incident’ status that has been in place in the region for 13 months, but people are warned to remain vigilant.

After consultation with LRF partners, including the emergency services, local authorities and the NHS, it was agreed the alert level in the region can be downgraded.

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Dave Walton, co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and deputy chief fire officer of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We declared a Major Incident on March 20, 2020 in response to the escalating Covid-19 pandemic due to heightened levels of activity in all our partner organisations, which far exceeded business as usual, and in anticipation of the situation worsening even further.

West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF), announced it will be standing down the ‘Major Incident’ status that has been in place in the region for 13 months, but people are warned to remain vigilant.

"Declaring a Major Incident enabled us to ensure all partners were working together, sharing resources where required, and effectively dealing with and responding to challenges.”

A Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) was established immediately, which enabled LRF agencies and organisations to meet to agree the multi-agency strategy and objectives and priorities, ensuring all agencies were working collaboratively. Together with Public Health England, the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the SCG has since met virtually over 130 times to discuss arising concerns, rates of infection and ultimately agree the response to tackling the pandemic in the region.

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The group said the decision had been taken due to local infection rates falling and the fact the NHS is not currently under any undue pressures.

While the stand down is reflective of the position across West Yorkshire, there are some local variations, as detailed below.

Calderdale: All cases are the Kent variant, which spreads more easily, so residents are advised to take great care when out and about. People are also urged to limit mixing with others, wear a face covering and self-isolate when necessary.

Wakefield: The positive case rate is slowly starting to increase, following a period of decline. The latest set of weekly data (22-29 April) shows a rate of 64.3 positive cases (per 100,000 population). This is higher than the national average, which highlights why it is more important than ever that people do not become complacent. There have been zero Covid-19 deaths of Wakefield residents recorded in the last two weeks. There are currently 15 Covid-19 patients being cared for by The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Leeds: Positive progress is being made in Leeds through the rollout of the roadmap, continued efforts by partners and people locally and the success of the vaccination programme, bringing a sense of optimism to the city. All the cases currently in Leeds are the Kent variant, which is more infectious.

Bradford: Covid -19 infection rates and deaths as a result of the virus reducing. The roll-out of the vaccine across the district has resulted in almost 300,000 people (more than 56 per cent of the city's overall population) being vaccinated and over 83 per cent of those who are eligible have taken up the vaccine.

Tyron Joyce, co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The Covid-19 rates in West Yorkshire continue to fall, which is thanks to the efforts of the majority of the public, who have done all they can to reduce the spread of infection. This means we have been able to take the decision to downgrade the alert level in our region, but we still need to remain cautious and vigilant.

“Cases in our region remain higher than the national average, so we must all continue to follow the rules – keep your distance from those not in your household or support bubble, only meet friends and family outside, wear a face covering where required and keep washing your hands frequently.”