North East to receive 'Enhanced Government response' due to high Covid rates

  • Report by Health Correspondent Helen Ford

Middlesbrough and the rest of the North East will receive extra national support to tackle high Covid infection rates.

The Department of Health and Social Care is to confirm the region will become an ‘enhanced response area'.

The additional support for 12 council areas will kick in from Monday (July 26) for an initial five-week period.

More information will be released as soon as possible.

As of 14 July, case rates for all ages in the North East were:

The 'enhanced response' will provide national support to target vaccine uptake in those areas where it is needed most and reduce variation between different areas.

This may include -

  • Targeted testing

  • Support with vaccine rollout

  • Support conducting ‘door to door’ testing

  • Approval to recommend additional interventions in schools.

He added that following discussions with officials from the Tees Valley local authorities, appropriate interventions will start from Monday 26 July 2021, with a review will be conducted after four weeks to see how effective these measures have been.

The change does not represent a ‘local lockdown'. No new legal restrictions will be introduced and there is no new guidance on travel.

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said: “This support is welcomed but it is overdue. It has been clear for some time that infection rates in our area have been rising sharply and compared with other regions, the take-up of the Covid vaccination has been low. 

“It is vital that our public health team and local authority are given all the support they need to put in additional resources for targeted testing and encouraging people to get their vaccination.  

“It feels the North East has been overlooked again – we should have had this support before now to avoid such high infection rates.” 

Separately, Redcar and Cleveland Council has teamed up with Middlesbrough FC’s charity, the MFC Foundation to provide a mobile vaccination unit for Redcar and Cleveland residents.

Mary Lanigan, Leader of the Council, said: “Our infection rate remains very high and we welcome the Government support.

“At the same time, we are urging people to remain cautious and keep following some of the simple rules, like continuing to wear a mask where appropriate and sanitising your hands, to get this infection rate under control.

“We’ve come so far together but it’s a long way from being over. We need to look after each other once again and get this dreadful disease under control.”