Northumberland not out of the woods over Covid cases

Residents are being warned that Northumberland is not “out of the woods” with regard any rise in Covid cases.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:49 pm
Liz Morgan, director of public health for Northumberland, has given an update of the Covid situation in Northumberland and urged people to take up their offer of a vaccine.

Health leaders have warned that communities need to continue to play their part and follow the ‘Hands. Face. Space. Fresh Air’ guidance to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Cases of the Indian variant are on the rise in North Tyneside, with cases also being identified in South Tyneside and Sunderland, while Covid cases have also risen in Newcastle.

A full meeting of Northumberland County Council on Wednesday heard that the situation in the North East was being watched, but at the moment there was no rise in cases of any variant.

Liz Morgan, director of public health for Northumberland, told councillors that people need to follow the guidance and get the vaccine when offered to them.

Ms Morgan said: “The thing we really need to communicate to our communities is we are not out of the woods.

"What we know from previous experience is that what happens in one area has repercussions in other areas.

"We really need people to follow the ‘Hands. Face. Space. Fresh Air’ guidance.

"We’d also encourage people to take up the offer of the vaccination and get the second dose.

"We’d also encourage people to get regularly tested using the lateral flow devices.

"We need to continue to encourage people to get themselves tested if they become asymptomatic, no matter how small.

"As we know household transmissions is a significant factor, we need to encourage households if they do meet with another household to meet outside.”

She added: “The bottom line is being cautious now will make a big difference in the weeks to come.

"Hopefully we continue along the roadmap at the same pack we are continuing.”

Ms Morgan said they were able to track the Indian variant cases in North Tyneside, which were linked to known settings.

Remote testing centres have been set up in communities bordering North Tyneside to help track any cases and potential spread into Northumberland.

"It’s good news as if we were seeing sporadic cases we couldn’t link then it would suggest wider community transmission,” she told councillors.

Ms Morgan said the relatively low Covid figures had put the county in a similar position to last August.

Councillors were told that up until May 16, more than 322,000 vaccinations had been delivered in Northumberland, with around two-thirds of those being the first dose.

A total of 92 per cent of the population over the age of 40 had received their first vaccination while 95 per cent of over 65s had received their second vaccine.

Ms Morgan added: “Uptake has been extremely high in care homes for residents and staff, one of the highest uptakes in England.”

She said one of the recent challenges was bringing forward people’s second dose from 12 weeks to eight weeks, with health staff having to get in touch with all the patients affected.

"It has been a fantastic response to the vaccination programme,” said Ms Morgan. “We’re now beginning planning for the autumn booster programme.”