THE North East has seen some of the highest Covid infection rates recorded in the country since records began - as almost all restrictions have today been lifted.

Brand new figures, which reveal one in six areas in England are now seeing their highest ever rate of Covid, have revealed this is the case for almost all areas in the region.

It comes as concerns over the region's "sky-rocketing" case numbers have been raised as 'Freedom Day' has seen all legal limits on social contact and face coverings removed.

Read more: Freedom Day: Government publishes list of guidance beyond July 19

Nationally, some 50 of the 315 local authority areas in England are now recording Covid case rates that are higher than any point since testing began.

According to figures collated by PA, eight of the region's local authorities have recorded their highest infection rate since records began - and among the highest in the country.

It says Redcar & Cleveland, which has now seen the highest rate of infection per 100,000 people in England, has seen its highest infection rate since records began.

This is then closely followed by Teesside areas Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, and then Sunderland, which have all recorded case numbers higher than at any point previously.

Those figures are from the seven days to July 14, with case data for July 15 to 18 excluded as it is incomplete.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid patients in some major hospital trusts in England has  climbed back to around a third of the level seen at the peak of the second wave.

In the region, the South Tyneside & Sunderland Foundation Trust reported 78 patients with Covid-19 on July 13 – the equivalent of 31 percent of its second-wave peak of 251.

The neighbouring Gateshead Health Foundation Trust reported 43 Covid-19 patients on the same day, or 30 percent of its second-wave peak of 141.

The infection rate in the North East areas with the highest rates in the country

- Redcar & Cleveland - 1268.0 cases per 100,000 people

- Middlesbrough - 1,178.9

- Hartlepool - 1,061.3

- Sunderland - 1,036.7

- Stockton 944.5

- Darlington 863.3

- County Durham 783.3 

- Northumberland 674.6

'Infection numbers are sky-rocketing in the North East'

The significant rise in infections across the region has prompted concern from some MPs.

Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Mary Lanigan, urged people to remain cautious.
She said: “We understand people will wish to take advantage of the easing of restrictions after such a difficult period but these infection figures in our area are clearly too high.
“That’s why we’re asking everyone to once again exercise caution and continue working together to continue to take some basic measures to reduce the spread of infection in our area.

“In addition to being cautious and considering others, getting vaccinated remains our route out of this pandemic.”

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "As of today, restrictions are lifted on most other activities as part of the gradual easing of lockdown measures that began in March.

"This means for the first time since the pandemic began, weddings and funerals can go ahead as normal, venues can operate at full capacity, and businesses like nightclubs can reopen.

"That is going to bring joy to many businesses and couples waiting to get married but while people have referred to this as 'Freedom Day' - I don’t see it like that.

"Yes we are able to do all these things again - but it’s still important to take sensible precautions to limit the spread.

"For some people, they’ll be fearful to leave the house or get on a bus, and we should all respect that, being mindful of others and taking steps to help them - like keeping our distance and wearing a mask when in crowded spaces.

"Keeping a physical distance and being outdoors remains the best way to prevent transmission.

"So as we reopen, I ask that we all consider others, and stay safe."

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North said he was concerned that infection rates could soar to "unmanageable heights" unless the easing of restrictions is treated with caution.

He said: “I am very concerned to hear that vaccine uptake among younger cohorts across the Tees Valley is dropping off.

"Although further restrictions are lifting, we must remember that we are in the middle of a rising wave of this pandemic and it is vital that everyone who is able to gets fully vaccinated.

“Infection numbers are sky-rocketing in the North East and I worry that they will soar to unmanageable heights unless we take this next step with serious caution.

"We must all do our bit to protect ourselves and those around us as infections rise by continuing to wear masks in enclosed spaces and making sure we get both doses of the vaccine. 

“Fortunately Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group are making it as easy as possible to access vaccinations with lots of drop in clinics - I would encourage everyone who has not yet had both doses to check their website for information about these vaccination sites."

The Northern Echo: The scene on Grey Street in Newcastle on July 19 Picture: NORTH NEWSThe scene on Grey Street in Newcastle on July 19 Picture: NORTH NEWS

Mr Cunningham's comments came as hundreds of revellers queued up outside nightclubs in Newcastle at midnight to secure their spot as nightclubs reopened.

Read more: This was the scene in Newcastle as nightclubs reopened at midnight

The pictures prompted a mix of opinion with some raising concern that the city could see a spike in infections in the next several days.


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