IT is expected that Hartlepool will soon be added to the Government’s watchlist as an area of concern following a sharp rise in Coronavirus cases.

This would mean that while further lockdown restrictions are not needed at this stage, they could be imminent if infection rates continue to rise.

There have been 51 confirmed cases in Hartlepool in the last seven days – up from 22 cases the previous week.

A number of steps have already been taken to curb the spread of the virus.

These include advising all care homes in Hartlepool to suspend family visiting so that we can protect some of our most vulnerable residents, while council staff and police are stepping up spot checks at pubs and restaurants.

The Northern Echo:

From Monday, it will also be illegal to meet with more than 6 people indoors or outdoors, unless you're part of the same household or 'bubble'.

Craig Blundred, Hartlepool Borough Council’s acting director of public health, said: “Up until recent days we’ve been doing really well in Hartlepool, but our latest figures are extremely worrying.

“They are a wake-up call that every single one of us must stick rigidly to the safety rules – relaxing and cutting corners is opening the door again to the virus.

“Some people may feel that Coronavirus poses little threat to them, but I’d remind them that even if they don’t show any symptoms, they could still easily pass the virus on.

“Furthermore, if the current trend continues, we face the very real prospect of Hartlepool being put back into lockdown just as the town is getting back on its feet.

“The answer is in everyone’s hands – please stick to the safety rules all the time – they are not hard to follow.”

The council and Public Health England are already responding to several small outbreaks across the town, but more cases could lead to government action – known as a 'local lockdown'.