North Yorkshire outbreak plans to remain in place for two years

North Yorkshire’s plan to deal with new coronavirus outbreaks and a potential second wave will have to remain in place for the next two years, public health officials have said.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, the county’s director of public health, said in a report it remains unknown how long it will be before a vaccine or effective treatment against Covid-19 will become available.

As a result, he said there is a need to move the government’s test and trace scheme into a “business as usual” service which will be launched this month and is expected to operate until the winter of 2021.

But beyond that, Coun Caroline Dickinson, the county council’s executive member for public health, said the region’s outbreak control plans will stretch into the summer of 2022.

The plans – published last month – outline how entire towns, streets, schools and businesses could be put back under lockdown.

Speaking at a meeting this week, Coun Dickinson said: “Although the issue is topical and there is great interest in the experience of Leicester where the first local lockdown was implemented, outbreak management will become business as usual.

“It is important that our plan is sustainable over the next 24 months when we may need to respond to outbreaks of various sizes and complexity in different settings across the county.”

It comes as North Yorkshire is recording one to two new coroanvirus cases everyday, according to Dr Sargeant

The county currently has a total of 2,533 confirmed cases with an infection rate of 412 per 100,000 people – almost a third of the rate in locked-down Leicester.

A further breakdown of the numbers shows the Harrogate district has 705 confirmed cases – an increase of five from 9 July.

Dr Sargeant said: “Many people will have been listening to the news on the issue with Leicester. We are very much off and not in that ranking.

“Scarborough, which has the highest rates to date, is about less than half of the levels we are seeing in Leicester.

“In terms of hospitalisations, they continue to go down very steadily.

“The bottom line is that most of the data indicates that we are in a situation where the numbers are low – and that gives us a good opportunity to consolidate that situation to work effectively with test and trace.”

It comes as the number of coronavirus deaths in Harrogate district care homes has passed 100.

A total of 81 patients who tested positive at Harrogate District Hospital have also died since the pandemic began.