Bradford Council hosted a Facebook Q&A on their response to Covid-19 and took questions from the watching public.

Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe started by thanking the Bradford public for their resolve over the last 8 months as the city battled the coronavirus pandemic while recognising it has not been easy with the restrictions in place. Ms Hinchcliffe also thanked Bradford’s NHS services for their hard work tackling the pandemic

The panel facing questions during the hour-long session included Bradford Council Leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Director of Public Health for Bradford District, Sarah Muckle, Deputy Council Leader, Cllr Imran Khan, and Toni Williams from Public Health England.

The first question was:

What is being done to protect and support those who live alone?

Taking the first question Sarah Muckle said: We are working with the voluntary sector who know those who are isolated. We are working with local organisations and nurses. We are urging people to call the 431000 number if they need help. We are monitoring those who were on the shielding list. We are also urging everyone to check in on loved ones.

Lockdown is hard on many people. Mental health is so important during this time, if you have concerns we urge everyone to get in touch.

The national government announced new lateral flow tests will be rolled out with test results within 30 minutes. 70 local authorities will be getting them.

Will Bradford be included in mass testing? If not, why not?

Sarah Muckle said that Bradford will be one of the local authorities getting 10,000 tests a week from national government.

Before Toni Williams announced that Directors of Public Health for each local authority will roll out these tests as they know their local area and where the highest Covid infections are.

On the Q&A it was revealed that Bradford is currently carrying out 16,000 tests every week across the district.

What restrictions can we expect post lockdown and what can we do with those who don’t self-isolate?

Susan Hinchcliffe said the national lockdown is an important opportunity to get the infection rate down, as it is very high in Bradford 585 per 100,000 at the moment according to the latest figures.

Ms Hinchliffe expressed her happiness that everyone was following the same guidelines again as she said sometimes the guidelines changed too often for people to understand.

Toni Williams said that Everyone needs to take responsibility for self-isolating if you are contacted by Test and Trace. She mentioned it might only be mild symptoms for you but for others it can and is severe.

There is a level of enforcement for businesses that break restrictions. While there is enforcement for individuals who don’t isolate they don’t want to be fining people.

There is a significant number of people who can’t self-isolate as it will impact work and livelihood and Ms Williams urged those to get the support on offer to help so they can stay at home.

As well as testing sites across the city, Bradford Council has been conducting home tests.

How does doorstep testing work?

Sarah muckle explained that council workers have been going to houses in high infection areas and offering home testing.

She mentioned that some parts of the district have a higher infection rate so testing them means they isolate and limit the spread. It’s also convenient to test people at home for them to make sure they are safe.

With the tests, they’ve found many have the virus but have not shown symptoms, so the home tests have stopped that spread.

The council is conducting 1500 tests a week at the moment with home tests.

Next, the panel took questions on schools and what would happen if worried parents kept children off school and what will it mean for the holidays if children at universities can’t come home.

Vulnerable parents, will they get a fine if they keep children off school?

Deputy Council Leader, Cllr Imran Khan said that there is very little evidence to suggest children are transmitting the virus. He said he understands parents’ concerns but he advocates that school is the best place for children.

In terms of fines, they are set by each school, but he urged parents to discuss the issues with their child’s school first.

With regard to universities, Mr Khan said that the national government is looking at the guidance again. It’s suggested that classes stop at the start of December so students can isolate and learn online, in order to return home safely over the holidays.

Susan Hinchcliffe said that some celebrations haven’t been as fortunate and she expressed her sympathies with those who have celebrated Eid and the upcoming Diwali that they couldn’t gather with loved ones.

You can watch more of the Q&A here: https://www.facebook.com/145878302161029/videos/1745975502220046