Covid cases continue to rise just days after 'Freedom Day'

Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to rise at an alarming rate – just days after restrictions were eased with ‘Freedom Day’.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:27 pm
Liz Morgan, director of public health for Northumberland.

Latest figures show a 150 per cent rise in the rate of cases in some parts of south east Northumberland, with more than 2,000 new cases reported in the whole county in the last week.

It comes after most measures previously introduced to try and halt the march of the pandemic were scrapped on Monday.

But despite bubbles, social distancing and the rule of six now being a thing of the past, people in Northumberland have been urged to remain ‘sensible and cautious’.

Waseem Mir, manager of Harbour View in Seaton Sluice.

Coun Glen Sanderson leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We must all take a sensible and cautious approach to ensure the progress we’ve made is not wasted in the coming weeks and months.”

Figures show the rate of cases per 100,000 rose from 520.8 to 1,340.7 in Bedlington Station & Sleekburn between July 9 and 16 – a rise of 157 per cent. Ashington East and Blyth South both saw a 97 per cent rise while Blyth town saw a 66 per cent rise from 625 to 1,039 per 100,000 people.

Latest figures from the council show 2,160 new cases between July 13 and 19, with Bedlington Central reporting the most at 70 cases, and Bedlington East seeing 57 new cases.

Coun Alex Wallace, county councillor for Sleekburn and a member of East Bedlington Parish Council, said: “Most people are still wearing masks when out shopping and hopefully they are washing their hands and doing the same things as before Freedom Day.

“Where the outbreaks are coming from you tend to think it’s because of the number of schools in the area, and more young people now getting tested. It was inevitable.

"Hopefully we’re over the peak. Everyone seems to take their turn having high rates. The other week Wooler was quite high.

"We’ve had a lot of visitors to the area recently.

"I’d urge everyone to go and get their vaccination, that has to be the biggest message. We should make it as compulsory as wearing a seatbelt.”

Liz Morgan, the county’s director of public health, warned the virus is continuing to spread, despite Northumberland having among the highest vaccine take-up rates.

She added: “We still have the 14th highest rates in England. The pandemic is still with us, and it is vital we all remain cautious.

“The more cautious we are and the slower we return to pre-Covid behaviours, the more likely we are to minimise the peak and keep our businesses, services and economy running.

“So we all have a part to play in making this work and keeping our communities safe.”

Elsewhere, a number of businesses are continuing to keep safety measures in place.

Among those is Harbour View, in Seaton Sluice.

Wasim Mir, manager of the fish and chip restaurant, said: “We’ve decided to do what we can to protect the vulnerable and those that have other health issues by keeping our Covid safety measures in place.

"We are very concerned by the increase in cases of deaths and at the number of people currently being infected.

“We’ll be keeping our markers on the floor, keeping our stainless steel and Perspex sheets up and limit the seating in our restaurant.”