Covid rates see 'steady decline' in South Tyneside - but health chief warns measures must still continue

Health chiefs have welcomed a “steady decline” in Covid-19 cases in South Tyneside but continue to urge residents to follow Government guidelines to stop the virus spreading.
Covid warning signs at Sandhaven beach seafront.Covid warning signs at Sandhaven beach seafront.
Covid warning signs at Sandhaven beach seafront.

Public health strategic manager for South Tyneside Council, Paula Phillips, updated the council’s ruling cabinet on the local Covid response earlier this week.

While noting the success of the vaccination programme in rolling out jabs to the borough’s most vulnerable, the public health boss also updated councillors on the direction of travel for case rates.

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“The local picture in the borough is not too dissimilar to the national landscape with the current rate for the last seven days being 157 per 100,000 [population], which is 238 cases in the last seven days,” she said.

“This is a difference of 767 confirmed cases that we have seen in the seven days during the peak of our pandemic, so it has been a steady decline since December.

“But the decline sadly for the North East has not been as quick as we would have hoped, so this is an important aspect for us to continue to look at.”

The comments were made during a cabinet meeting on February 17, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

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Councillors heard the position at the borough’s hospital had improved, with case numbers declining at a similar rate.

Meanwhile, all borough care homes have now been vaccinated with opportunities available to vaccinate any member or staff or resident who missed the jab if they were unwell at the time.

Although the picture is improving, Ms Phillips urged residents to continue to follow guidance to help stop the spread of the virus.

”In addition to the vaccine, we know that the best way to manage this virus is under the control of the existing guidance, reducing the spread, avoiding social contact, creating at least that two metre distance, regularly washing our hands and wearing a face covering,” she said.

“It’s important that we continue to do that.”

She went on to say: “We just want to say a massive thank you to all those key workers who are continuing to keep the society going throughout this difficult time.

“The shop workers, delivery drivers, school staff and our health and social care and many others, obviously without them society would just simply stop.”

“It’s important that we continue to keep doing everything that we have been doing to keep everyone as safe as possible and slow the spread of this virus.”

Testing time

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South Tyneside Council has continued to expand its availability of testing across the borough for those without symptoms, using lateral flow devices which provide a result within 30 minutes.

Around 5,000 residents have been tested each week, which are part of schools, health and social care settings and council staff.

A dedicated testing site has also been set up within South Shields Town Hall with council staff who are classed as ‘business critical’ being offered weekly tests.

Plans are under way to increase this to ‘twice weekly’ once extra staff resources are brought in.

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Testing to date started on January 25 and so far, 239 staff within the council have been tested.

The Government is set to reveal a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown next week and also announced an extension of the current shielding arrangements until March 31.

Councillors heard that an additional 1.7 million people across the country are being added to this existing cohort.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, closed the cabinet meeting by giving thanks to everyone involved in the vaccination programme.

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“There’s been some fantastic work going on in this borough with regard to getting this vaccination programme up and running and getting it to the success that it is,” she said.

“I just want to place on record a huge thanks to our health partners, the pharmacists, the council and the volunteer marshals that are out there doing a fantastic sterling job.”

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