Positive COVID-19 cases are rising quickly across the North East according to the latest Public Health England data, leading to a combined response from local council leaders.

Gateshead now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region. Positive cases tripled in the district between August 30 and September 6 with 45 people per 100,000 testings positive for the Coronavirus, a rise of 241% from the previous week. The district was added to the Government’s watchlist earlier this week.

Sunderland has also been affected with 38.5 cases per 100,000 – an increase of 7.9 from the previous week. Cases have also doubled in Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland.

South Tyneside is also on the Government COVID-19 watchlist with 68 new cases recorded in the latest PHE data. Newcastle also confirmed they will be added to the latest watchlist while Sunderland is expected to follow.

North East council leaders released a joint statement earlier this week saying they were “deeply concerned” over the rising rates in the region and particularly about the number of young people infected by the Coronavirus.

According to Newcastle City Council, over 90% of residents who tested positive in the last two weeks are aged less than 60, and around 60% are from the 18 – 30 age group.

Council leaders from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham, and North Tyne mayor, James Driscoll all signed the joint statement released this week which read: “As leaders of the seven North East local authorities, we are deeply concerned at the increasing number of positive coronavirus cases we are seeing across the region, particularly among young adults.

“Our councils have been working hard to protect our communities, keep frontline services running, supporting our most vulnerable residents and helping businesses reopen but we must not be complacent.

“We all have to do our bit and to play our part if we are to prevent a potential second wave. The impact that would have on our health service and the possibility of an economically-damaging lockdown would be devastating.

“We ask that individuals protect themselves to protect others and to protect our region as well as call on all businesses to make sure their premises and operations are COVID-secure.

“Average cases per day across our local authority areas have doubled in little more than a week and are averaging around 80 per day in the most recent figures – we expect that to go higher in coming days.

“Social distancing is still the best defence we have, along with washing hands for 20 seconds and covering our faces when we are asked and required to do so.

“Our Public Health teams have been working tirelessly to track and trace every case but there have been a number of incidents over the last few days which make this task even more difficult.

“People who have symptoms or are asked to do so by the Health Protection teams must book a test and self-isolate until they have their results.

“Don’t assume, if you are a contact, that a negative test means you are OK – it doesn’t; you could be incubating the virus. If you are asked to self-isolate, it is really important that you do so whatever your test status at the time.

“We have seen cases where individuals with symptoms have had a test, then gone out and infected others before getting their results – reckless and selfish behaviour.

“Businesses also need to comply – that means recording all the information of customers so they can be contacted quickly if there is an outbreak, managing social distancing and ensuring a strict hygiene regime. Failure to do so will leave us with no alternative than to shut those premises down.

“A significant minority believe it is OK to have house parties, hold events with unregulated crowds, ignore the rules – well it isn’t. Household transmission remains the biggest danger.

“By not following the guidance, advice and legislation you are at greater risk of spreading the virus to your own family, which as we have seen can lead to tragic consequences.

“None of us yet know the long-term health impact of COVID 19, while the full social and economic consequences are also yet to play out.

“What we do know is infection rates are rising quickly. We cannot allow it to get out of control. Please work with us and do your bit to keep our great region safe.”