A VACCINE, the easing of restrictions and a rise in Covid cases across the North-East have all been talking points over the past 24-hours. Here's what you need to know: 

  • 1,500 more coronavirus cases in region 

There have been over 1,500 additional coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours across the North-East and North Yorkshire, according to the latest statistics.

The Government said a further 598 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the UK total to 52,745.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 68,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

As of 9am on Tuesday, there had been a further 20,051 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total number of cases to 1,410,732.

  • Government expects 'significant easing' of restrictions in December

The Government expects there to be a “significant easing” of coronavirus measures in December, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said.

Mr Jenrick was asked if the Government might be forced to ban indoor meetings over Christmas if Covid-19 cases are still high.

Appearing on Times Radio, he said: “We don’t know that yet.

"The hard yards that we’ve done in November were designed to enable most people in England to have a much more normal December so that we can go to the shops, we can use hospitality and, as far as possible, we can be together as families at Christmas." Read the full story here.

The Government is also set to next week decide on how to end the four-week national lockdown as it is warned a tougher tier system is needed. Read more.

  • Covid infection rates rise across the North-East and North Yorkshire

Almost every part of the North-East and North Yorkshire has seen a rise in the number of new Covid cases in the past week. Latest Public Health England data has revealed that 13 out of 14 council areas in our region have seen an upwards trend in Covid cases.

The data shows that Richmondshire, Northumberland and Newcastle have seen the highest increase in Covid cases in the past week, based on the week previous. While County Durham, Darlington and some areas on Teesside have recorded a significant increase in the number of new infections. Read the full story here.

  • Undercover investigation reveals Covid testing failings

A headteacher has said schools are now under intense pressure caused by serious failings in the Government’s Covid testing system. 

Jane Davis, who leads Lanchester Primary School, in County Durham, featured in a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation aired on Monday night. She said her school was at ‘breaking point’ in September due to failures in the testing system, which meant people were unable to get appointments. Read more here.

  • There has been a Covid outbreak at council call centre

MORE than a dozen people have tested positive for coronavirus at a council call centre in Newcastle.

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has asked the majority of staff at its South Gosforth site, which also acts as a call centre for Newcastle City Council, to stay at home after the outbreak. It has been confirmed that 15 staff at the Benton Park Road site have tested positive for Covid-19, three are showing symptoms, and a further 10 have been told to self-isolate. Click here for the full story.

  • Covid: Northern Echo readers torn over whether to get a vaccine

With news of successful Covid vaccine trials dominating headlines, it finally feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the coronavirus pandemic. A new jab was shown in early data to be almost 95 per cent effective in protecting against Covid-19. 

The Northern Echo asked readers on Facebook whether they would get the vaccine and who should be a priority. Some 99 of you had your say and responses were mixed.

While those in favour of the vaccine agree NHS front line workers, care home workers and the elderly should be given it first, many are sceptical. Read the full story here.