1,000 people have now died in North Yorkshire after testing positive for Covid-19

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The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus across North Yorkshire has passed the 1,000 mark, health officials have revealed.

Richard Webb, director of health and adult services at the county council, said a total of 1,006 people have now lost their lives to the virus in what he described as a “sombre” milestone in the pandemic.

Speaking at a press briefing of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, he said that of the 1,006 deaths, 539 were in hospitals and 387 in care homes.”Behind the numbers are life stories, memories, and love,” he said. “We remember today those 1,006 people, their loved ones, friends and families.

“And at least it gives us yet again a reminder that there are at least 1,006 very good reasons why we need to follow the rules and do everything we can to try and bring the infection rates down.”

Louise Wallace, the county’s director of Public Health, also said the people who had died were “not a statistic” but “family, friends and people who lived in our communities and we will remember them”.

Mrs Wallace also gave an update on the latest infection rates which have fallen across the county but still remain high, with the average number of cases in North Yorkshire at 121 per 100,000 people, below the national average of 193.

The highest rate was in Richmondshire at 151, with Selby at 137, Harrogate and Hambleton at 123, Ryedale 116, Scarborough 105 and Craven 100.

The number of people in hospital with Covid has also fallen, although there are still more than during the first wave with 343 people in beds and 44 in intensive care.

At Harrogate hospital, patient numbers have fallen by three to 61 since last week when the trust reported a record number of beds were taken up by people infected with Covid.

Elsewhere, the number of patients at York hospital has fallen by 26 to 107 and Scarborough hospital has seen a drop of 16 to 26.

Today’s briefing also heard that there have been more than 175,000 first doses of the vaccine administered across North Yorkshire and York, and that the county expected to meet its target of vaccinating everyone in the top four priority groups by February 15.

But there were also warnings over the importance of following lockdown rules and that people were travelling outside their area to visit beauty spots, as it was revealed that a group of people had travelled more than 100 miles from Whitby to Manchester to see the Abbey.

Superintendent Mike Walker, North Yorkshire Police lead for the force’s Covid-19 response, said: “Whilst we’ve seen infection rates falling across the region, areas are still subject to fluctuation, rates are not falling quick enough to low enough levels, so we must keep going.”

He added: “That feeling when you lose a loved one is something, myself and colleagues are working hard around the clock to try to prevent as many people as possible from experiencing by encouraging the public to continue to follow the rules by taking enforcement action against those who openly flout the rules.”