Plans in place to stem spread of covid variants in South Tyneside, says health chief
Public health bosses have said plans are in place to stem any potential spread of Covid ‘variants of concern’ in South Tyneside.
Neighbouring North Tyneside is among several areas in the country where enhanced testing and vaccination measures have been implemented due to rising Covid-19 cases and concerns over the ‘Indian variant.’
Earlier this week, the local authority’s public health officials issued a plea for people to come forward for testing in the area in a bid to curb the rapid transmission of the variant.
On Wednesday, May 26, South Tyneside’s director of public health, Tom Hall, reassured local health partners that case rates had remained at a consistent low level in the borough since the beginning of April.
While there was very little direct impact from the situation north of the Tyne, Mr Hall explained, plans are in place, if needed, to stem any future spread of variants in South Tyneside.
“Other main things that we are aware of is obviously the rise in variants and variants of concern, not least the situation that’s going on north of the Tyne,” he said.
“We’re very much staying abreast of that although in South Tyneside we have had very little direct impact at this point in time.
“However, as we saw in North Tyneside the situation changed quickly so as a health protection board we’re looking at what additional responses we might need to put in place in case of a variant of concern, such as surge testing.
“For the final version of the Outbreak Management Plan, there will be an annex added to that around how we might respond to variants of concern.”
The comments were made during a meeting of South Tyneside’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which was held at South Shields Town Hall with Covid-safe measures in place.
Looking forward, health chiefs said they are continuing to recommend ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ guidance, alongside promoting vaccine uptake in the borough.
Mr Hall added: “The vaccine is showing good levels of efficacy against the two existing main variants and I believe the research is starting to show that it has a good level of efficacy against the Indian variant as well.
“So what’s really important is that we get the vaccine uptake as high as possible on both doses and make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind.”
According to data revealed later in the meeting, South Tyneside’s vaccination programme has now administered around 152,000 doses to residents.
This includes more than 90,000 first doses and around 62,000 second doses.
Residents are also encouraged to make use of free twice weekly home testing and must self-isolate if a positive result is given.
Anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms must self-isolate and book a PCR test.
For more information on testing in South Tyneside, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/71048/COVID-19-local-testing-site-Getting-a-test-if-you-have-symptoms
Details on Covid-19 vaccines can also be found here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine