North East leaders urge people to help prevent further covid outbreaks over bank holiday weekend as concerns hang over Indian variant

North East health bosses have urged people to do their bit to prevent further Covid-19 outbreaks over the bank holiday weekend.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 2:55 pm
People are being asked to take care on what is forecast to be a sunny bank holiday weekend

With sunshine and warm weather forecast over the weekend, residents are being warned to “proceed with caution” and meet up with friends and family outdoors or at Covid-secure venues – particularly with multiple areas reporting cases of the fast-spreading Indian variant of the virus.

It was finally confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the borough is not subject to any formal movement restrictions or a new local lockdown, though the government still advises ‘minimising’ travel in and out.

At least 40 cases of the Indian variant have been reported in North Tyneside and smaller numbers have also been confirmed in Newcastle and, most recently, Sunderland.

Public health officials from North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle, Northumberland,and County Durham councils issued a statement warning “the virus is still with us and is still a threat to ourselves and our loved ones”.

They said: “We are all aware of the headlines in our region this week with Covid-19-related advice that was issued regarding travel in and out of North Tyneside. Several of our communities have had confirmed cases of the variant of concern of the virus, known as the Indian variant, and for North Tyneside this has resulted in enhanced testing and extra vaccination services being available.

“While it has since been clarified that there are no formal restrictions on travel anywhere in our region, we should all continue to proceed with caution to protect our communities, wherever we live.

“We should all use our judgement and take sensible public health precautions when going about our daily lives, particularly when mixing indoors.

“Our communities are closely linked and what happens in one area has repercussions for people across the region. Many of us cross boundaries for work or school, to support vulnerable friends and relatives, and to enjoy the many beauty spots that make the North East the place we love to call home.

“That is why we are asking people across the region to take the same approach.”

They urged people to follow essential Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air guidance, make use of free lateral flow Covid test kits, self-isolate and book a PCR test straight away if you develop symptoms, and get both doses of the vaccine as soon as you’re offered it.

They added: “One area that continues to be a significant factor in the spread of this variant and all cases of the virus is transmission within and between households. If someone in your household tests positive for Covid it’s important that they try to self-isolate from the rest of the household as much as possible. For further advice, search for ‘self-isolation’ at www.gov.uk.

“We would also encourage people to plan activities with family and friends outdoors or at public venues where risk assessments and guidance have been formally implemented and evidence shows a much lower risk of transmission.

“With improved weather conditions forecast for the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend, we should also take extra steps to ensure we stay safe while out and about. Do not travel if you are unwell and maintain a safe distance from others outside your household or support bubble.

“The impact of Covid has been difficult for the region and its residents, but we urge everyone to keep going at what is a crucial time, both in terms of the Roadmap out of lockdown and the continuation of the vaccination roll out which is vital to keeping people safe and allowing us to all to enjoy each other’s company in person once again.

“Caution at this stage could make a significant difference in the coming months.”