'Don't throw away all your hard work' plea as North-East coronavirus cases surge post-lockdown

North-East council leaders have pleaded with residents not to “throw away all your hard work” following a post-lockdown surge in coronavirus cases.

Thursday, 12th November 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th November 2020, 4:38 pm
The LA7 statement is signed by council leaders including, clockwise from top left, Cllr Iain Malcolm of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, of Durham County Council and Cllr Graeme Miller, of Sunderland City Council.
The LA7 statement is signed by council leaders including, clockwise from top left, Cllr Iain Malcolm of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, of Durham County Council and Cllr Graeme Miller, of Sunderland City Council.

The leaders of the LA7 groups of councils, which includes local authorities in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Durham and Northumberland, are now urging people not to leave their home except for some very limited specific purposes and to avoid social contact in a bid to drive the rate down.

Their latest statement says that footfall in the towns and city centres was high in the days before the second lockdown, leading to large crowds of people and that, even now the national restrictions are in place, many areas continue to be busier than expected.

Public Health officials say the impact of this activity is starting to feed into the number of people testing positive and are asking everyone to take the virus seriously or risk tougher restrictions continuing.

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In their statement on Thursday, November 12, the LA7 leaders said: “We once again thank everyone for their efforts which saw our figures flattening ahead of lockdown.

"However, we are seeing the rate of Covid infection rising, hospital admissions going up, more outbreaks in vulnerable populations and workplaces as well as in households and sadly more deaths.

“This virus is everywhere and we need to all recognise this when we go about our daily lives.

"That means reducing social contact, maintaining social distance, good individual and collective hygiene practice wherever we are and wearing face coverings where required.

“We would also ask that when taking exercise we all try and stay close to home – we saw large groups of people on our beaches, at beauty spots and in our town and city centres last weekend which risks the virus spreading at a faster rate when not socially distanced.

“Having been highlighted by the Chief Medical Officer and the Prime Minister as the only region to see restrictions having an impact on our numbers, we do not want to come out of lockdown in a worse position in terms of infections than we went in.

"But unless things change that is where we are heading.”

The co-signatories include Councillor Graeme Miller, who is the leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, the leader of Northumberland County Council, and Cllr Simon Henig, of Durham County Council.

Official figures on November 12 show three more confirmed coronavirus deaths across Sunderland and South Tyneside hospitals and one at Northumberland’s main hospital trust.

The statement added: “Our public health teams are currently looking at the best way to utilise the rapid turnaround tests to support our communities and the news of a potential vaccine is of course welcomed – but in the short term we must all continue to try and suppress the virus.

“The rate of infection is rising in all age groups. It is a fast-moving, changing picture and every single person’s actions will make a difference.

“We cannot let our guard slip and we ask that you join us in redoubling our efforts over the next two weeks to protect yourself, your loved ones, your friends and particularly those residents in our towns, cities and villages who are at greatest risk from the devastating impact of coronavirus.”

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