The North East districts of South Tyneside and Gateshead have all seen rises of COVID-19 cases over the past fortnight, causing concerns over local lockdowns being introduced.

62 new cases were recorded in South Tyneside between August 24 and August 31, according to the latest data from Public Health England with 41 cases per 100,000 people recorded, a rise from 18.5 per 100,000 in the previous week.

The rise saw overall cases in the council pass 1,000, prompting the council to suspend visits to care homes and to work closely with pubs and restaurants to offer advice and to ensure they are working within the COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Tom Hall, Director for Public Health for South Tyneside, explained South Tyneside council is being “proactive” to prevent a local lockdown, whilst also admitting the area is at a “tipping point”.

He said: “The rise in the number of cases is significant enough to warrant us taking proactive action to avoid a local lockdown. We are monitoring this situation closely and proactively working with local businesses and the public to reinforce the measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It is vitally important that everyone does their bit. We are at a tipping point right now. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they can’t see their friends and family but if people don’t follow the guidance then we may be forced to implement more serious measures. Both the Council and the Police will not hesitate to take action against those found to be in breach of the guidance.”

Gateshead has also seen positive cases double over the last week as the number of people testing positive rose from 18 last week to 38 in the figures between August 24 and August 31.

There is a further concern in Gateshead over the number of COVID-19 tests that are available in the district as cases are rising but cases remain well below the more affected areas of the country.

MP for Gateshead Ian Mearns raised the issue of testing in Parliament on Wednesday explaining that the council’s testing capacity had “evaporated”.

Ian Mearns said: “My director of public health in Gateshead is very concerned that despite the fact that the number of cases in Gateshead has gone up from 18 to 33 to 38 of Covid-19 in the last fortnight, our testing capacity has just gone – it has just dried up, completely evaporated.

“At the latest count, we only have enough tests to start in the morning at 8 o’clock and completely run out by 10.

“That has significant problems for equalities issues in terms of the people who can get tested and where they can be tested and when they can be tested.”