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BACKING THE DELAY: Coronavirus cases continue to climb in the North East


Health bosses have shown their support for the delay to lockdown ending as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the North East.

Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the North East. North Tyneside is experiencing the highest infection rate in the region with 112.5 per 100,000 people. We have yet to see a drastic increase in hospitalisations.

County Durham has the lowest infection rate of the North East counties with 53.2 per 100,000 people.

Backing the delay

Gateshead’s director of public health has backed the four-week delay to lockdown ending, amid spiralling coronavirus infection rates in the region.

Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that the final stage of relaxing lockdown restrictions would not go ahead as planned on June 21, but would continue until July 19.

That delay has been blamed on the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, which has become dominant in the UK over recent weeks.

While the fast-spreading strain has not yet been as prevalent in the North East as some hotspots, particularly in the North West, it has now caused a rapid spike in cases – with Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland all now reporting infection rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, Gateshead recorded an infection rate of 65 cases per 100,000 people on Monday.
Ms Wiseman said that the decision to delay the final stage of the roadmap would prevent the country from “going backwards” and ending up with further restrictions.

She said: “I know that this decision will be disappointing for many people, but I believe it’s the right thing to do to stop us going backwards and ending up with further restrictions.

“Local infection rates are rising quickly and if the virus continues to spread at this speed, by the end of this month the number of positive cases is likely to reach the levels we were dealing with in February.

“The higher the case rate, the greater the risk that we’ll see further mutations of the virus that the current vaccines may not be able to protect us from.”

Ms Wiseman said that the delay gives younger age groups,  currently the highest numbers testing positive for the virus, the opportunity to get vaccinated.

She added: “The vast majority of people testing positive are under 30, which, alongside low numbers in hospital, highlights the success of the vaccine programme to date.

“This delay gives us the opportunity to vaccinate those younger groups. The next few weeks will be crucial – we need as many people as possible to get both doses of the vaccine as soon as they can.

“This will protect the individual, slow the spread, reduce the risk of new variants and ultimately help ensure that when the remaining restrictions are lifted, they’re lifted for good.”

Written by Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter

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