Newcastle, South Tyneside and Gateshead in top five highest Covid rates

Newcastle Covid PA
Newcastle City Centre Credit: PA

Newcastle, South Tyneside and Gateshead are now in the top five for areas with the highest Covid case rate in the country.

Newcastle did have the highest, but it has now been taken over by Tamworth in Staffordshire.

Of the 315 local authorities in England, 311 have seen a week-on-week rise in rates and four have seen a fall in the week to 1 July.

South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland are also in the top five areas with the biggest week-on-week rises:

  • South Tyneside (237.8 to 689.5)

  • Gateshead (274.7 to 629.5)

  • Sunderland (257.1 to 606.0)

"No huge increase in hospitalisations"

There was "no huge increase in hospitalisations" in Newcastle despite it having one of the highest rates of new coronavirus cases in England, a public health official says.

Most cases on Tyneside were among largely unvaccinated under 25s, says the city's deputy director of public health, Lorna Smith.

Ms Smith says, "Infection rates have increased quickly in most parts of the country, and clearly that is the case for our region.

"It still remains that the majority of cases are among the largely unvaccinated under 25s, who also account for much of the mixing that takes place in social and household settings.

She urged adults to book to have both vaccinations at the earliest opportunity.

Ms Smith also said it was vital for people identified as a close contact of a positive case to self-isolate.

Face coverings

On 5 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed legal Covid restrictions would be lifted on 19 July - meaning it will no longer be mandatory to wear a mask.

The elected North of Tyne mayor says easing restrictions, including lifting the requirement to wear a mask, should not be left to individuals to decide.

Labour's Jamie Driscoll says, "We can't leave it to personal choice as to whether people wear face masks.

"We wouldn't make obeying speed limits a personal choice.

"The whole point of a face mask is that you are protecting other people, not just yourself."

He is one of six elected mayors across the country to oppose making face coverings voluntary.

He says wearing a mask is a "minor inconvenience" which allowed society to open up.