Outbreak of covid at Newcastle Hotel sparks second biggest case rise in UK

A spike in Covid-19 cases in Newcastle is down to just one "controlled" outbreak at a hotel, public health officials have confirmed.

The most recent coronavirus figures show that Newcastle had England's second highest week-on-week rise in infection rates in the seven days to April 2, rising from 41.6 to 58.8 new weekly cases per 100,000 people.

It has now been confirmed that the spike in cases was down to a single outbreak of cases at the Novotel Newcastle Airport hotel, in Kingston Park.

The hotel, which has been open as it is being used to provide temporary accommodation for asylum seekers, has reported 36 positive Covid cases among its employees, security staff, and residents.

Public Health England data from Tuesday showed that, as a result of the outbreak, the Woolsington and Airport area has the highest infection rate in the North East - at 320.3 per 100,000.

Prof Eugene Milne, Newcastle's public health director, says that Covid cases across the city and the North East as a whole remain on a downward trend.

He said: "The spike in daily cases we have seen in Newcastle is linked to a specific, controlled outbreak in the city. 

He added: "However, we must not become complacent, especially as restrictions across the country are eased. The reopening of shops and gyms means more of us will be indoors in environments that the virus thrives. The only way to continue to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable in our city is to always stick to the basic rules of HANDS - FACE - SPACE - FRESH AIR and to make sure anyone symptomatic isolates and gets tested as soon as possible to prevent further community transmission."

Novotel hotel group is owned by Accor Group Credit: PA

The Accor group, which runs the Novotel chain, was contacted for a comment.

The city council published data on Wednesday afternoon stating that the Covid infection rate in the city is now 44 per 100,000, compared to 56 on Tuesday.

The infection rate for the LA7 area covering Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham is 35.

The figure for the wider North East region is 39 and the England average infection rate is 31 per 100,000.