MIDDLESBROUGH is on the verge of national action over coronavirus, Mayor Andy Preston warned today.

The town is expected to be added to the government's coronavirus watchlist today.

Middlesbrough is likely to be named as "an area of concern" following a sharp rise in positive Covid-19 cases.

Middlesbrough Council was made aware of 10 further positive tests on Friday. The town's infection rate per 100,000 of population is now around 39.

The council is today urging people not to mix with more than one other household indoors. No more than six people from different households should be mixing outdoors.

Face coverings are essential in all shared transport and public places.

Mr Preston has today again called for all staff serving the public to cover their faces.

He said: "Let me be straight, this isn't scaremongering. Everyone must act now.

"We've been nervous about our infection rate over the past week so the expected announcement doesn't come as a surprise.

"This week we've urged people in the strongest terms that they need to take urgent action for the good of Middlesbrough. Now we're in the national spotlight it should be crystal clear how serious this is.

"We are out there every day spreading the word - telling businesses and individuals to follow the guidelines that will keep us all safe. We're going to go further still to try and avoid a local lockdown and protect jobs."

The council is set to send face coverings to homes around the town along with a leaflet stressing the urgency of the situation.

Public service announcements will be made at regular intervals on BBC Tees and a new social media campaign will remind residents of the guidelines to keep people safe.

Mr Preston added: "The rules are really simple and effective: wear a face covering, wash your hands and keep a distance from others - easy!

"By protecting yourself you protect others and help Middlesbrough bounce back. This is a fight for health and jobs and it's one I know we can win."

The Council urged businesses and residents to take urgent action earlier this week to avoid the threat of a local lockdown.

No immediate restrictions will be introduced if Middlesbrough is named as an "area of concern", but the town will for the first time be formally under close national surveillance.

The council and Public Health England are continuing to urge people in Middlesbrough to respond to coronavirus symptoms, however mild, by self-isolating and booking a test.

A mobile test site will be at Newport Community Hub from 1pm-5pm on Saturday and from 9.30am-4pm on Sunday.

The mobile site will remain at Newport Community Hub until Thursday, September 10 - daily opening times will be confirmed in due course.

The permanent test centre at Middlehaven is also open 8am-8pm daily.

Free tests can be booked online or by calling 119.

The Council is continuing to remind residents of the following urgent advice: • If you have coronavirus symptoms, you and everyone in your household must self-isolate

• This means staying at home other than for medical reasons such as attending a test: do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis

• You must not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home

• Anyone with symptoms, however mild, should book a free test online or by calling 119. The test centre at Middlehaven has capacity for around 800 tests per day and home test kits can also be requested

• The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see - especially over short periods of time. The risk of transmission is also higher indoors, so you should take extra care to stay as safe as possible.

• Anyone advised to self-isolate after a positive test MUST complete their full period of self-isolation by staying at home

• If you are informed you have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive you MUST continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days even if you have had a negative test

• Everyone must try to stay two metres away from people they don't live with, wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and wear a face covering in shared transport or in public places such as shops The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to taste or smell.

More information on the critical rules around self-isolating is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/