Pandemic in Northumberland not ‘anywhere near over’

The coronavirus pandemic is not “anywhere near over”, according to health chiefs for Northumberland.

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 9:40 am
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 12:09 pm
We're not out of the woods yet.

Preparations are being made across the county and the wider North East for what many have predicted will be another tough winter.

And it has prompted bosses to repeat calls for the public to stick with measures such as face masks and social distancing in a bid to avoid a repeat of the surge in infections seen last year.

“We’ve got the winter flu plan, but there’s not much in there to stop superspreader events, things like festivals and concerts, where we’re repeatedly seeing spikes in cases associated with events like that,” said Liz Morgan, director of public health at Northumberland County Council.

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“We really need to focus on vaccine coverage and on areas of inequality, continue to focus on 12 to 15 year olds and the booster programme.

“We’ve seen 1,500 cases in the last week and for me it doesn’t feel like this pandemic is anywhere near over – we still need to be cautious, kind and considerate.”

The latest figures showed that, since the start of the pandemic, there have been 35,371 confirmed coronavirus cases in Northumberland, with 817 instances in which the disease was recorded on a death certificate.

According to Morgan, while hospital admissions for Covid-19 have remained largely steady in recent weeks and months, infection rates nationally have climbed from about one in 80 to one in 70, with cases “more prevalent in the North East”.

Northumberland currently ranks among the top third of English local authority areas for positive tests, with under-19s currently accounting for two fifths, with five to 14-year-olds driving transmission of the disease.

The seven days to October 14 saw 445 cases confirmed across 77 schools and other education settings in the county, a similar figure to the previous week.

But outbreaks within schools have at least remained mostly contained and confined to either the year group or class in which they started.

Morgan added: “The longer we maintain Covid safe behaviours, the less likely we are to see an overwhelming increase in cases.

“What it suggests is although social distancing, as a measure of [compliance with Covid safe behaviours], has reduced, it has now levelled off, so we’re retaining a level of Covid safe behaviour, which is really good news.”

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service