Covid: Delta variant now dominant in North Yorkshire and most cases among under 30s, says health boss
Louise Wallace told a North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum briefing today that the variant - which was first identified in India and has delayed the final lifting of lockdown restrictions - was accelerating in most parts of the county with around 40 new cases per day.
She added the strain appeared to be spreading fastest amongst the younger population as she also urged people to take up vaccines which have now been opened up to over 21-year-olds.
Ms Wallace said: "The Delta variant does appear - as is the case nationally - to be the dominant strain of Covid-19 across North Yorkshire. In light of that, it is really important that given the variant is more transmissible we don't let our guard down.
"We are mixing more and getting out and about, and it is really easy to get distracted and forget the basics.
"I can't stress enough how important it is to get two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Two doses give the best protection from getting seriously ill so please do take up both.
"My message this week about the increase in cases isn't the one I wanted to give or the one people want to hear. However, as we have shown before, when we all work together, keep going and do the right thing we can reduce the spread of the virus so please continue to play your part."
While there is evidence that the Delta variant is likely to spread more easily and could make people more seriously ill, North Yorkshire's hospitals have yet to see a significant increase in Covid patients.
Patient numbers have risen over the last week - but only by one - with eight patients in South Tees, four in York and none in Harrogate or Scarborough.
The latest data on cases suggests it is the unvaccinated who are driving infections which is why the Prime Minister announced on Monday that the final stage of lifting lockdown restrictions would be delayed by four weeks.
Boris Johnson said 19 July would be the "terminus date" for the remaining restrictions on social contact and that the delay would allow more people to get vaccinated.
In North Yorkshire and York, more than 518,000 people have now received their first jab and more than 407,000 their second.
National NHS bosses have also said they expect every adult in England will be able to book their first vaccine from the end of this week and that they were aiming to offer second doses to two thirds of adults by 19 July.
Richard Webb, director of health and adult services at North Yorkshire County Council, told today's briefing that it was "eminently sensible" to delay the end of lockdown and that even once everyone is vaccinated, people will still have to learn to live with the virus.
He said: "We will continue to do all we can here in North Yorkshire to support the aim of unlocking the country and our county in the roadmap. A crucial part of that is the vaccination campaign, and I would urge you totally and utterly to get your jab when you are offered it.
"We are moving into a new era and will be living with Covid probably for the next 12 months. We will have periodic problems with new variants, and there will be others that follow in the wake of Delta."
The latest weekly infection rate for North Yorkshire stands at 45 cases per 100,000 people, below the England average of 75.
A breakdown of the districts is as follows: Craven 84, Selby 68, Harrogate 58, Richmondshire 35, Hambleton and Ryedale 27, and Scarborough 15.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter