Coronavirus: South Tyneside Council leader gives COVID-19 update and urges people not to panic buy

South Tyneside Council leader IAIN MALCOLM has written an open letter to residents about the ongoing situation in relation to coronavirus...

Reports around coronavirus can be unsettling and I understand that many people across South Tyneside will be feeling worried.

Firstly, I want to reassure everyone that the Council, South Tyneside Homes and our partners are doing everything we can to support people to be safe.

We know that there will be COVID-19 cases in South Tyneside, however with the change to testing arrangements we will not know exactly how many.

South Tyneside Council Leader Coun Iain Malcolm.

I want to reassure people that we are working closely with Public Health England, the NHS and all our partners on the South Tyneside Health and Wellbeing Board to limit the spread of the virus. We wish anyone suffering coronavirus symptoms a full and speedy recovery.

We will continue to monitor developments closely and follow national and regional advice. We have plans and procedures in place for handling situations involving public health and emergencies, which we regularly plan and train for.

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At present, most council services are continuing to run as normal. However, it is inevitable that the council will have to focus its resources where they are needed most.

The Prime Minister has said people should start working from home "where they possibly can".

I know that some of you will have concerns around food supplies given activity over the weekend. I have asked officers to review the provision of free school meals and have authorised further payments to our foodbanks. I must urge you though, please do not panic buy.

South Tyneside’s strong community spirit and incredible army of volunteers in the third sector is something that really makes us stand out. Already people are coming together to try and do their bit, however it is important that we support a safe and sustainable volunteer response.

We will be working with partners and our third sector to maximise efforts of both existing and new volunteers. This isn’t just about being part of an organised group though, but also about the little things we can do to look out for one another as part of being a good citizen.

Keep in touch with those around you and alert us if you have any safeguarding concerns. I want to take the time to give my thanks to people across the Borough who continue to do a fantastic job day in day out to help support our communities.

A lot of work is going on to ensure that resources are prioritised to support the most vulnerable in our society and focused on delivering our statutory functions. The Council, through myself and the Chief Executive, is in regular dialogue with central government seeking additional resources and guidance where available.

We have taken the decision to suspend our meeting of Borough Council this Thursday as a precaution and so that we can focus all of our efforts onto the coronavirus response. We will continue to evaluate the plan for future meetings over coming days and weeks but please be assured that decision making will continue.