More than half of Covid cases in the North East are the new variant
North East council leaders have revealed that more than half of Covid cases in the region are from the new strain of the virus.
A joint statement, issued by the leaders of councils in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside on Monday, January 11 has revealed that the region's case rate is way under the national average but the new variant of the virus now counts for more than half of cases in the North East.
The statement, which was also signed by North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, comes as England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warns the "worst is yet to come" for the pandemic.
Council chiefs said: "As we enter the second week of the third national lockdown, we once again thank all residents who have done their bit by staying at home as much possible.
“These efforts, coupled with the widespread compliance with the tiered restrictions beforehand, means infection rates across our region are at a level that is much lower than other parts of the country.
“The current case rate per 100,000 for Tyneside, Wearside, Northumberland and County Durham is less than 400, compared to a rate in excess of 600 per 100,000 for England as a whole.
“The position we find ourselves in may be better than in other parts of the country, but we still have a long way to go and if we are to avoid some of the scenes we’ve seen in London and elsewhere with hospitals reaching capacity with Covid-19 patients, we must continue do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus."
Council bosses also reiterated the message to "stay at home" and to avoid busy areas if you do leave the house for a valid reason.
The statement added: "What we do know is that the new, more transmissible variant of the virus now accounts for approximately half of all cases in the region.
"It is well known that this variant is easier to catch and spreads further than the original virus, so we must continue to be vigilant and act like we all have Covid. We cannot allow it to take control.
“For the most part, that means staying at home but for a few exceptional reasons including for exercise, shopping for essentials and travelling to work if you cannot do so from home.
"You can also leave home to seek help if you are unsafe or at risk of danger. But unless it absolutely necessary for you to go out, you should stay at home and deny the virus any opportunity to spread.
“As Chief Medical Officer Christ Whitty outlined this morning, reducing your social contact with others remains vital and by following the guidance we can all do our bit to protect our communities.
"Stay local if you do have to go out and if you go somewhere that is already busy, turn around and go home. Less traffic on our roads and fewer pedestrians also reduces the likelihood of accidents and prevents further pressure on the NHS."