North East and North Yorkshire hit record-high Covid case rates

THE North East and North Yorkshire are recording their highest rate of new Covid-19 cases since comparable figures began in summer 2020, when mass testing was first introduced across the UK.

The North East recorded 835.8 cases per 100,000 people in the week to July 11, while Yorkshire and the Humber recorded 462.7 per 100,000, according to the latest Covid-19 surveillance report from Public Health England.

All other regions are recording their highest rate since January.

Case rates are also rising for all age groups, with 20 to 29-year-olds recording the highest rate of 747.3 cases per 100,000 people.

It is the highest rate for this age group since the week to January 10.

Both five to nine-year-olds (297.3 cases per 100,000) and 10 to 19-year-olds (729.1) are recording their highest rates since comparable figures began.

The figures reflect the impact of the third wave of coronavirus, which is continuing to drive a sharp increase in cases along with a slow but steady rise in hospitalisations.

Responding to the figures, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, warned that despite more Covid-19 restrictions easing in England on Monday July 19, the virus had not gone away.

“Case and hospitalisation rates continue to rise,” she said. “We must all be sensible. Remember it is safer to be outside when mixing with friends and family and when inside, open windows to help ventilation.

“The best way to protect yourself is to have both doses of the vaccine as soon as you are offered. Do not delay.

“We should all continue to get tested twice a week and anyone who has symptoms should seek a test immediately and stay at home while they await their result.”

Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s director of public health, said: “With the government’s easing of restrictions on 19 July, we do expect there to be a rise in positive cases and we must all remain cautious and play our part to keep our communities safe.

“We encourage people to follow the government’s guidance on wearing face coverings beyond Monday, which is that they are expected and recommended to be worn in crowded areas such as public transport. Similarly, maintaining hand hygiene, limiting contact and meeting in well-ventilated areas, and continuing to take regular Lateral Flow Device tests will help reduce the spread of infections.

“There are still people who have not been fully vaccinated yet and it remains essential that everybody comes forward for both doses. Thousands of appointments are available through the NHS or at walk-in centres, so I would like to urge people to make sure they receive both doses.

“We have seen our communities show incredible determination and resolve to support one another through previous waves of the pandemic. Even though rules are about to be lifted, it is important that we all continue to work together and do the right thing to save lives and protect others.”

Labour MP Kevan Jones said: ‘’These figures are alarming and are a sharpe reminder that the pandemic is not over. The Prime Minister shambolic messages on the lifting  of restriction have sown  confusion and put the vulnerable  at risk.

“If we are to avoid a future local down, deaths and pressure on the NHS the Government need to empower Local Directors of Public Health to implement local plans along with the funding to carry them out to tackle areas where Covid numbers are rising. ’’ Covid-19 hospital admissions in England stood at 4.4 per 100,000 people in the week to July 11, the highest rate since the week to March 14.

Admission rates are highest in north-west England, with a rate of 10.5 per 100,000 – the highest since the week to February 21.

Among age groups, admission rates are highest for those aged 85 and over (14.2), followed by 75 to 79-year-olds (8.1).

The Northern Echo | Teesside