PARTS of the North-East are set to go into local lockdown at midnight tonight after a sharp rise in the number of new cases - but how did we get here?

Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland are understood to be affected by new measures.

Measures are expected to include a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, and a ban on socialising with people from outside your own household.

LIVE UPDATES: North-East Covid-19 lockdown:details to be announced today

But the idea of a local lockdown in the region has been floated for the past two weeks after Middlesbrough, Gateshead and South Tyneside became 'areas of concern'.

And the Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make an announcement confirming the local lockdown restrictions at around 11.30am today.

READ MORE: Middlesbrough and South Tyneside added to coronavirus watchlist as cases rise

We've put together a timeline of events which shows how a rise in Covid-19 cases led to seven councils calling on the government for restrictions.

When did the cases begin to increase?

The North-East started to see a dramatic climb in the number of Covid-19 cases towards the end of August - with more and more postcode areas reporting new cases.

The Northern Echo:

The Covid-19 hotspot map from between August 17 and August 23

Towards the end of August, just 8 postcodes in County Durham and Teesside had reported more than 2 Covid-19 cases.

The map, which is based on Public Health England (PHE) data, flags up areas where there has been more than 2 confirmed Covid-19 cases. 

The Northern Echo:

The Covid-19 hotspot map from between August 30 and September 5

In the first week of September alone, more than 40 postcodes in County Durham and Teesside reported a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Seaham, Peterlee, and Sedgefield were among the County Durham areas where cases had increased compared with the previous week. 

READ MORE: The 43 North-East postcodes that have seen a rise in Covid-19 cases

The Northern Echo:

The Covid-19 hotspot map from between September 6 and September 12

But latest PHE data now shows much of Tyne and Wear, parts of County Durham and Teesside have reported an increase in cases.

It shows 24 County Durham, and 23 Teesside postcode areas have seen a higher than average rise in the number of cases.

During this time period, 33 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a charity football match on the border of Sunderland and County Durham.

READ MORE: 33 new Covid cases linked to charity match at Burnside club

At the time, Gillian Gibson, Director of Public Health at Sunderland City Council, said: "We are seeing increases in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Sunderland particularly in the Houghton area so it’s incredibly important that people continue to follow public health guidance.

"In order to prevent the spread and protect ourselves and our communities, when we’re outside of the home we all need to behave as if everyone we meet is infected."

READ MORE: Every County Durham and Teesside postcode which has reported a rise in Covid-19 cases

Prompted by the rise across the region, several North-East councils wrote to the government calling for “stricter Covid-19 prevention measures” to be put in place.

On Monday, councils in Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, and Northumberland asked for the drastic measures following a spike in infection rates. 

READ MORE: Councils to ask for tougher lockdown restrictions to combat Covid

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “There is universal concern from council leaders across our region about the exponential rise in Covid cases over the last week.

“Unless we get on with this now, we are facing a bigger problem down the line which could end up in a full lockdown.

“It is better to try to introduce measures which will prevent that, even though that may mean some additional restrictions over the next few weeks.

“We are working with the government on a plan for what those could mean and how we can get those measures in place over the next few weeks to protect our communities and having to go into another prolonged, damaging lockdown.”

Latest infection rates for the North-East areas set to be placed into lockdown hadve risen in a matter of days - confirmed the councils' concerns.

Latest data, published yesterday, confirmed South Tyneside had the region's highest infection rate. 

  1. South Tyneside - 1,293 cases - 856.4
  2. Sunderland - 2,319 cases - 835.1
  3. Gateshead - 1,676 cases - 829.5
  4. County Durham - 3,928 cases - 741
  5. Newcastle upon Tyne - 2,085 cases - 688.5
  6. North Tyneside - 1,168 cases - 561.8
  7. Northumberland - 1,851cases - 574.1


'A rising tide of infections'

Earlier this week, Prof Eugene Milne, Newcastle City Council’s director of public health, said that the rising case numbers were partly down to a “rising tide” of infections as lockdown restrictions eased and then exacerbated by major outbreaks linked to events such as the Burnside Working Men’s Club charity football match on the border of Sunderland and County Durham, which has now led to more than 60 positives tests. 

The public health boss also said last week that local councils would prefer any new lockdown restrictions to be imposed on a region-wide basis to avoid the dangers of residents simply crossing to a neighbouring borough to get around them, for example to find an open pub.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Amanda Healey, Director of Public Health at Durham County Council, said the seven council areas will monitor the situation on a weekly basis.

She said: "We hope, that is one of the reasons we've asked for restrictions now, is to be proactive and preventative, to be monitored on a weekly basis.

"We'll be looking at an exit strategy as soon as possible once we see those cases come down."