Hopes covid bounce in South Tyneside will die down as health chiefs manage primary school staff cases

Care chiefs for South Tyneside are hoping a modest ‘surge’ in coronavirus cases since the return of schools will die down.

By James Harrison
Friday, 26th March 2021, 4:24 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 4:28 pm
Road markings thanking the NHS in South Tyneside
Road markings thanking the NHS in South Tyneside

Classrooms reopened for all pupils on March 8, coinciding with a low point in infections in the borough.

Since then transmissions have crept up, but bosses are hopeful other factors could explain the climbing numbers.

“We’ve seen a bit of a bounce since our low point,” said Tom Hall, director of public health at South Tyneside Council.

“There’s a lot of primary school staff cases we’re managing, in addition to where we were previously, not well beyond where we were in September when the schools reopened.

“Although it’s been busier since the schools returned, it’s not overwhelming or difficult to manage necessarily, but it is a bit of a surge we’re hoping will die down again.”

Hall was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which was held by videolink and broadcast via Facebook.

According to Hall, transmission rates had previously fallen to a low of about 60 per 100,000 people, later rising to 116 and then 123 per 100,000 in the weeks following the reopening of schools.

But at the same time, the number of COVID-19 tests being carried out in the borough doubled, from about 12,500 a week to 25,000, meaning more cases which may otherwise have gone undetected being recorded.

Hall was also hopeful he had not yet seen other warning signs which have accompanied rising case rates in the past.

He added: “Unlike previous times when we started to see the case rate surge, we’ve not necessarily seen pressure on adult social care or at the hospital trust.

“The activity at South Tyneside District Hospital remains very low – at the last count it had about six covid positive cases, a much more positive situation than the one prior to Christmas, where it was more like 125.”

New cases being ‘predominantly’ in the under 60s also appears to show the effectiveness of the vaccine programme so far.

Earlier this week, North East NHS chiefs suggested figures due to be collated over the coming days would show the impact of the return to schools, with bosses largely confident the wider recovery will continue.

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