Cautious welcome as coronavirus figures remain low in South Tyneside - but health chief urges people to stay alert
The borough was previously thought to be one of the worst affected areas in England, with COVID-19 considered a factor in about a third of all deaths at the outbreak’s peak in April and May.
But despite the turn around, town hall chiefs have insisted families must continue to comply with hygiene and social distancing guidelines to prevent a resurgence.
“The borough has continued to see only a small number of new cases locally,” said Sue Ross, South Tyneside Council’s interim corporate director for children, adults and health.
“In the last two weeks we’ve had eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“This continues to be one of the lowest rates currently in the country and there have been no COVID-related deaths for the last five weeks.
“Whilst we’re currently reporting a good position, people must continue to socially distance, get tested where appropriate and wear face coverings in line with government guidance so we all play our part to keep the rates low in South Tyneside.”
Ross was speaking at a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
She added the council was ‘ready if the situation starts to deteriorate’, although hoped to avoid the types of renewed lockdowns seen in Leicester and Greater Manchester.
But the meeting also saw bosses approve a raft of new anti-COVID powers, including measures to shut down events and venues which could be linked to a rise in coronavirus cases.
The meeting also heard how health chiefs were testing plans which were in place to manage local outbreaks in the borough.
In July, the borough unveiled details of its Local Outbreak Control Plan, which sets out how it will react to a fresh rise in confirmed and suspected cases of coronavirus.
And while this is not expected to see a full lockdown on the scale seen in places like Leicester and Greater Manchester, it could see more targeted measures for individual workplaces, schools, care homes and other venues.