Image Credit: Annie Watson
The City of York Council's #AskTheLeaders Live Coronavirus Q&A held last week proved to be a relatively optimistic meeting for many of the residents in attendance.
Despite the city's move into a Tier 2 lockdown as recently as last month, Sharon Stoltz, Director of Public Health for York Council, admitted her hopes for a swift move into Tier 1 for York. Although the current national lockdown means that a move to Tier 1 would have little impact for York at the moment, Stoltz is optimistic that “we won't go back into Tier 2,” meaning “life will be a lot easier for our businesses and residents” in the future.
Stoltz's confidence stems from the success in York of the local Track and Trace system. York's local approach has outshone the approach on its national level, with 83 per cent of people requiring self-isolation contacted, compared to a lesser average of 60 per cent on the national scale. York's success in contact-tracing those who need to isolate will play an instrumental role in halting the spread of Covid-19 within the city.
As stated by York Council, “Rapid contact tracing and self-isolation are a key way of stopping the spread of Coronavirus”. The council recognises that cooperation with local residents is essential to the success of the system, and they have acknowledged that they are “very grateful” for the cooperation from “the vast majority” witnessed thus far.
During the Q&A, Stoltz noted: “The latest data shows that the number of positive cases of Covid in York is coming down”. She added that the positive test rate is now "just under 12 per cent”, meaning it has “fallen quite significantly over the last few weeks”. This is an improvement from the 18 per cent positive rate witnessed last month when York passed into Tier 2 of the lockdown system. Overall case numbers are also dropping on a weekly average in the city, with Stoltz noting that the council are “managing to keep local outbreaks, in care homes and schools, well under control”.
However, on a less optimistic note, Stoltz claimed that the number of patients in York Hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19 was increasing. She said: “We're seeing an increase in Covid-related patients in York Hospital, and GP practices are still very busy as well.” This is perhaps a reminder to York residents to remain stringent to the isolation guidelines provided by the test and trace system, as the Council urges residents to “continue to engage with the service as it really does make a difference in slowing the spread of the virus”.