Bradford residents are being urged by health experts to stay alert to COVID-19 and to follow government safety guidelines after a rise in cases.

Increasing social activity since the initial easing of lockdown restrictions has risen by 60% after non-essential shops reopened on June 15. This activity includes people returning to work and increased travelling in the city.

Further shops are expected to open this Saturday, July 4, as pubs, cafes, hotels, restaurants and hairdressers can open again with social distancing measures in place.

Although Bradford has seen an overall decline in the number of cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, Bradford Council issued a warning today that the number of people testing positive for the virus is still too high, increasing the risk of a local outbreak.

Public Health England figures today also revealed that Bradford, along with Barnsley and Rochdale, has some of the highest infection rates in England, with a rise of 45 or more cases per 100,000 people in the last week.

Director of Public Health Sarah Muckle said: “As we take more and more steps towards returning to a more normal life, it’s easy to believe that COVID-19 is less of a threat to our health and the health of our family and friends. This is simply not the case.

“While lockdown was essential for reducing the levels of the virus circulating in our communities, the easing of lockdown takes us into a phase of learning to live with the virus.

“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a decline in cases, but Bradford still has high numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19, higher than other parts of the UK. It has not gone from our lives. We are still seeing people in our hospitals with the virus and it still has the potential to make our loved ones, who may be more vulnerable, seriously ill.

“It is good news that more people are being tested because once people know they have COVID-19 they can self-isolate and via NHS Test and Trace we can ensure their contacts take appropriate action. However, what we want is more people not to get the virus at all.”

The advice to residents is that people can still have the virus despite showing no symptoms and that everybody should continue to: wash their hands frequently, stay at home as much as possible and to stay two metres apart from people who are not in their household.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said: “No one wants a second lockdown.  The virus is still everywhere and in Bradford district so far more than 500 people have lost their lives to this horrible killer.

“It takes 3-4 weeks for people to get seriously ill from COVID.  We must all stay vigilant, we don’t want to see a second spike of cases that inevitably would mean more deaths.  Don’t be conned into thinking it’s all OK now, it’s not.

“It is crucial that we continue to adhere to the government guidelines, stay 2 metres apart wherever possible, not everyone who has the virus has symptoms so you might not realise you are carrying a virus which will kill other people.  Wash your hands frequently and wear face coverings in those areas where the social distancing is not possible.

“We’re a city of key workers.  Many residents have been working throughout the lockdown in supermarkets, care homes, public transport and that could make us more vulnerable than other places.  Knowing that we are testing a lot of people and prioritising key workers.  We have the highest testing rates in the whole of the Yorkshire & Humber and North East region.  Our key workers have kept us safe, it’s only right we keep them safe too.”

Further government information and advice about the coronavirus can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Information on coronavirus is also available on Bradford Council’s website: https://www.bradford.gov.uk/health/health-advice-and-support/coronavirus-covid-19-advice/