THERE is a “high possibility” County Durham will suffer another coronavirus outbreak.

According to bosses at Durham County Council, both the county and the wider North-East are currently considered low risk of a sudden spike in positive Covid-19 tests.

But they have also admitted it could only be a matter of time before the virus hits the region again and have urged the government to ensure testing facilities and data are available.

“I think there’s a high possibility that there will be an outbreak in County Durham at some point,” said Terry Collins, the council’s chief executive.

“I’m pleased to say at the moment the infection rates are generally quite low and there’s no risk as we speak.

“But we are aware that as this progresses and the disease progresses we’re likely to face problems, so it’s essential we prepare. We need to plan and be ready to react if we have any issues going forward.”

Mr Collins was speaking at the latest meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing board, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

He said that some English councils have struggled to react to rising infection rates after testing data was “a bit slow to arrive”.

The council’s Covid-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan has now been published, focussing on preventing the virus’s spread as well as the tracking of cases.

According to the latest government data, County Durham has had 3,329 confirmed cases of coronavirus, giving it an infection rate roughly half that of Leicester, the worst affected area, relative to population size.

Amanda Healy, the county council’s director of public health, said: “At the moment we’re not able to fully link every single case that we have. We really need that data down to the employer, place of employment or school so we can ensure we can rapidly detect cases and stop transmission.”

She added: “Ensuring we control virus and respond to outbreaks is key to recovery of the economy, NHS, social care and our communities.”