Health boss issues infection warning after Covid rates rise in Northumberland

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Coronavirus cases are rising in Northumberland, leading to fears of a “twindemic” of Covid and flu this winter.

Northumberland County Council’s interim director of public health, Liz Morgan, told councillors that ONS data showed that the number of people infected by the virus had jumped from one in 65 to one in 15.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing board, she added that the North East was currently the worst-affected region and reminded the public to keep taking steps to limit the possible spread of the virus.

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She said: “The ONS survey data is the best way to establish trends, but it is a few weeks out of date. The latest data is for the week ending September 24.

Covid infections are rising in Northumberland.Covid infections are rising in Northumberland.
Covid infections are rising in Northumberland.

“There is a suggestion infection rates in the community are increasing. It has gone up to one in 16 from one in 65, and I don’t think it has been below one in 17 for many months.

“Rates are higher in the North East and high in primary school-age children. The steepest rises are in ages over 70 which is a bit of a concern as they are the most vulnerable.

“There is obviously something else going on – it is likely that behavioural factors are having an impact. We don’t know whether this is a blip or another wave.”

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According to the latest figures published by Northumberland County Council, which refer to the period October 3-10, 383 people tested positive for Covid. This equates to 118.3 people per 100,000.

The worst-affected age groups are 70-79, followed by 50-59 and then those aged 60-69.

The five wards with the most infections are Alnwick (19 cases), Amble with Warkworth (14), Longhoughton (11), Druridge Bay (11) and Cramlington North (11).

Ms Morgan also pointed out that the flu season in Australia had been more severe than expected and started earlier, and that the country and the county needed to prepare for the possibility that the situation would be replicated here.

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She added: “What we need to avoid is concurrent peaks of Covid and flu. For Covid or flu, the vaccine really is the best way of reducing your risk.

“If you start to develop symptoms, stay at home if you can. That hands, face, space message is really important.”