A NUMBER of councils in the North-East are yet to roll-out mass testing as some report they have not received their test kits.

The Northern Echo understands that some councils in our region are still waiting for test kits to be delivered so that the programme can begin.

But the Department of Health has said it is not aware of any "delays" to the roll-out of mass testing and is working with councils to deliver the rapid tests.

Last Monday, it was confirmed that all council areas in the North-East would become part of the new scheme, which sees test results turned around within an hour.

SEE MORE: 60 minute Covid test to be rolled out in the North-East

At the time, a statement from the Department of Health said that test kits would be delivered to more than 50 directors of public health across England that week.

It said that directors of public health would then determine how to "prioritise" the allocation of new Lateral Flow tests, based on the needs of communities.

The Echo this week approached each council across the region asking whether they had rolled-out mass testing in their area.

SEE MORE: All of the areas enrolled in mass Covid testing rollout

But some said they were yet to receive the test kits as part of the mass testing programme, while others said they were still working on plans.

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: "We haven't received our kits yet. We're still developing our plans and will provide more detail in due course."

It is understood that Darlington Borough Council, Middlesbrough Council and Gateshead Council are among those which have not received the tests so far.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said it had also not yet received the tests, but was in the early stages of developing its plans for delivery.

They said: “We welcome the opportunity to take part in the rapid testing as our efforts continue in the fight against this virus.

“While we have yet to receive the tests, we are in the early stages of developing our plans for delivery.

"We will now be working closely with our partners to determine how best we roll out these new tests in our communities to ensure they get the maximum benefit.

“We will look to provide more information on this in due course.”

But a spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said it had received its allocation of tests for mass testing, but that plans were still being worked up.

Meanwhile, Sunderland City Council said it was working with partners to develop plans for the roll-out of the programme.

Gerry Taylor, Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning, said: “We are working with partners locally and across the region to develop plans for the roll out of lateral flow testing and will announce these in due course.”

In response, the Department of Health told us that it was not aware of any delays to the roll-out of testing, and that there is a logistics team working with councils to deliver test kits to addresses specified by each region.

The department went on to say that the Lateral Flow Test kits can be deployed to council areas within 48 hours and the delivery of associated electronic devices take up to 5 days.

It comes as latest Public Health England data, published on November 16, showed almost every part of the region had seen a rise in Covid cases in the past week.

SEE MORE: Almost EVERY part of North-East and North Yorkshire has seen rise in Covid cases in past week

The data, which showed the number of new cases in the seven days leading to November 11, revealed 13 out of 14 council areas had seen a rise.

It prompted fresh warnings from council and authority leaders across the region to be issued to residents. 

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen urged residents to adhere to the rules in a bid to see restrictions eased for the festive period.

He said: "It is absolutely essential that we all follow the rules to get this deadly virus under control as soon as possible.

"We all know, sadly, Christmas won't feel normal this year but by acting now, hopefully some of these measures can be relaxed in time for the festive season so people can spend time with their family and friends."

'Ive seen for myself the impact this virus can have'

Mr Houchen, who had previously been ill with symptoms of Covid after his wife tested positive, said he hoped everyone across the Tees Valley would "do their bit."

He said: "I've seen for myself the impact this virus can have with my wife and I both becoming ill in recent weeks, but I know many more people have suffered much worse than we have due to others losing loves ones and the impact it is having on livelihoods. But by sticking together and following the regulations, we can come out the other side. 

"I know this is a frustrating and hard time for everyone, but I urge everyone in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to do their bit by staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”