YORK has had many more cases of the new variant of coronavirus than other areas of Yorkshire, according to public health leaders.

About three in every four cases in the city are down to the new variant.

But the rest of Yorkshire has had much lower levels of the more infectious form of the virus.

City leaders believe the spread of the variant in York caused the rapid spike in infections between Christmas and New Year.

Sharon Stoltz, public health director, told a council meeting: "In fact we're estimating that over 75 per cent of the infections that we're seeing in York are due to the new variant and this is the reason why we've seen this high spike in infections.

"York has done pretty well throughout the pandemic to keep our numbers low and we in York have the highest rate of infection due to the new variant.

"There are parts of North Yorkshire that have the new variant but there's very little of it in the rest of Yorkshire, which is probably why we've seen this spike in cases."

She added that case rates in York are now falling quickly - but the city still has the highest rate in the region.

A new rapid test centre is also set to open in the city early next month, but the location has not yet been revealed.

The council's test and trace team has also been expanded.

Ms Stoltz said: "Overall those numbers are falling and our case rate at the moment is quite a bit below the national average. We were higher than the national average last week.

"Our rate is still the highest in Yorkshire and Humber, which is really not where we want to be, but what we've shown in York is that we can get the case rate down very quickly by all of us working together and following the infection control measures."

She said handwashing, wearing a face covering and social distancing will all help to stop the spread of the new variant.

"We'll be able to make an announcement soon of a a new testing site opening in early February," she added.

"That's the new rapid tests and we've expanded our contact tracing service and we have lots of arrangements in place to support people and who need help to self-isolate."

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