'No sign' yet of covid bounce back in North East after schools reopen, say health chiefs

Any rise in coronavirus infections caused by the return of schools should be seen this week, NHS chiefs have predicted.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 5:44 pm
Health chiefs say this will be the week where any impact of schools returning would be expected to be seen in covid figures

English classrooms reopened to all pupils on March 8, following their closure in response to rising case numbers.

But while concerns have been raised about the impact the move could have on the UK’s emergence from lockdown restrictions, health bosses in the North East are satisfied this week’s figures will show continued recovery.

“Thankfully, as of today (Monday March 22), community infection rates are much reduced,” said Sir James Mackey, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

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“We’re back to September, maybe early October, levels now in our patch, at about mid 50s-70s per 100,000.

“We’re not quite at the point where we were last summer, at about 25 per 100,000, but significantly reduced.

“If there’s going to be a bounce from schools [going back], we will see it this week, but there’s no sign of that happening [yet].”

Sir James was speaking at a meeting of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the North East and North Cumbria ICS (Integrated Care System) and North and Central ICPs (Integrated Care Partnerships), which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

In January, parts of the region saw infection rates approaching or even exceeding 1,000 per 100,000, which Sir James compared to ‘London levels’ of infection.

He also revealed about 200 patients in the region are currently receiving hospital treatment for COVID-19.