Liz Morgan issued the appeal following reports that the new coronavirus strain has been found in samples from the North East, including Northumberland.
She said: “Covid-19 continues to be a major threat. There is a high level of confidence that this variant is more infectious, so it passes between people more easily, and spreads more quickly.
"However, it’s the same virus causing the same disease so the actions that will prevent it from spreading are exactly the same.
“The most effective thing we can all do is limit the number of people we interact with outside our own household to an absolute minimum and maintain social distancing.
"All other prevention measures are still very important – avoiding crowded public places and wearing a face covering; washing your hands frequently and trying to keep homes well-ventilated.
"These are simple things we can all do to stop this virus from spreading. They really work, but they work best when we all do them consistently and well.”
She continued: “We know how difficult this is, especially at a time of the year when families traditionally come together to celebrate Christmas but this year, rather than expressing our love by coming together, let’s express that emotion by staying apart and help to keep our friends and family safe.
“The spread of the virus is in our control and our behaviour directly affects the number of cases in the area. Hands, Face, Space - especially ‘space’ - is proven to be the best defence until the population has been vaccinated.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has been doing their bit for so long, and we know everyone desperately wishes we could see an end to the restrictions, but it’s more important than ever that we all put in that extra effort to keep our friends and families as safe as possible in the coming weeks.”
Anyone with symptoms should also book a test as soon as possible at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 and follow the guidance around self-isolation until the result is known and thereafter if it comes back positive.