How bad is the coronavirus outbreak in North East England?

The slim margin between areas put into new coronavirus lockdowns and those that are spared is laid bare by infection and hospitalisations data from North East England as local leaders complain of being plunged into Government restrictions by surprise.

Data shows large variations in coronavirus infection rates across the region and some areas which have been left out of new rules have cases rising faster than areas now facing lockdown.

It also shows that coronavirus hospitalisations across the region are at around 20 per cent of the highest levels during the peak of the pandemic, and deaths have remained remain stable at three per day or lower for 14 weeks.

Yesterday Matt Hancock announced that residents of Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Durham and would be banned from meeting friends outside their bubble indoors.

And while cases are highest in those regions, infections are rising faster in some areas outside of the lockdown rules than they are in areas within it. Local council officials are angry that measures are being introduced without them being forewarned.

Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees last week saw their cases-per-100,000 rise by 84 per cent and 71 per cent, respectively, but will not be included in tonight's crackdown, while Gateshead, and Durham will be locked down despite slower growth. Those areas do, however, have higher overall rates for the most part - although Durham's is lower than Hartlepool's. 

Across the country, hospital admissions among Covid-19 patients are rising to levels not seen since June, now with a daily average of 272, while the number of deaths are also creeping up with there now being an average of 30 per day after that figure fell to a low of just seven a day at the beginning of September.

Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland and North and South Tyneside will all have to face the new rule outlawing socialising indoors from midnight tonight

Newcastle, , Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland and North and South Tyneside will all have to face the new rule outlawing socialising indoors from midnight tonight

Coronavirus infection rates are rising across the North East with the numbers of cases per 100,000 people highest in South Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead, while rising fastest in Northumberland over the past week

Coronavirus infection rates are rising across the North East with the numbers of cases per 100,000 people highest in South Tyneside, Newcastle and Gateshead, while rising fastest in Northumberland over the past week

Data shows there have been 491 Covid-19 hospital admissions in the North East in the past month, compared to 361 in the Midlands, 264 in London, 109 in the South East, 72 in the East and 52 in South West. Only the North West of England, with 552 admissions, has had more than the NE during that time. Graphs show how the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 in each different region of England has changed since the pandemic began

Data shows there have been 491 Covid-19 hospital admissions in the North East in the past month, compared to 361 in the Midlands, 264 in London, 109 in the South East, 72 in the East and 52 in South West. Only the North West of England, with 552 admissions, has had more than the NE during that time. Graphs show how the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 in each different region of England has changed since the pandemic began

Revealed: All the areas of England, Scotland and Wales that have been hit by tougher local restrictions because of a spike in Covid-19 cases

Revealed: All the areas of England, Scotland and Wales that have been hit by tougher local restrictions because of a spike in Covid-19 cases 

Seven out of 12 areas in the North East will be affected by tighter social distancing rules from tonight - Newcastle, , Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland and North and South Tyneside.

The remaining five, including Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar and Cleveland will escape the rules, despite Hartlepool and Stockton having faster-rising infections than some included areas.

Infection rates published by Public Health England last week listed Hartlepool as the second highest area on its places of 'enhanced support and concern'. 

The town in County Durham has an infection rate of 75.1 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to PHE's most up-to-date data, almost double the 40.8 a week earlier.

Five out of the top six places on PHE's list of concern are all in the North East - Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland fall below Hartlepool. All are receiving 'enhanced support' but aren't yet in lockdown.

All seven areas that will face the new socialising ban from tonight are already on the list of 'intervention' areas on Public Health England's list as people have been advised not to socialise with people from outside of their homes. 

WHAT ARE THE NEW LOCKDOWN RULES IN THE NORTH-EAST?
After midnight tonight it will be illegal to meet indoors with people from outside your household if you are in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland or . The rule includes meeting in pubs, pub gardens or restaurants and breaches are punishable with fines of between £200 and £6,400; People in those seven areas should not meet with anyone they do not live with, or who isn't in their 'bubble', in any home or garden. This is enforceable by law; People must not meet in groups of more than six anywhere, and officials advise that people in those areas don't meet up with anyone they don't live with; Residents of the seven affected regions of the North East should only travel outside of the area they live in if it is essential, such as to go to work or education, to get food or medicine or to help a vulnerable person who has no other option; The North East must follow all other national rules, including not meeting up in groups larger than six, wearing face masks on public transport and closing hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants by 10pm.

 

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South Tyneside is currently the worst affected of them, with an infection rate of 177 cases per 100,000 people, which ranks it second worst in the nation.

Newcastle also places in the top 10, with a rate of 157 per 100,000, and the infection rate there has tripled in a week from just 52.6 on September 18. 

Bolton, in the North West, still retains the worst infection rate in the country with a considerably higher rate of 200 cases per 100,000. 

New lockdown measures risk lumping together areas that have a lot of people with Covid-19 and areas with fewer cases that are included only because they're nearby. 

Hartlepool escapes tonight's restrictions but its infection rate has risen by a greater margin than that of Durham, Gateshead and , which are all part of the lockdown measures. Confusingly, Durham also has a lower total rate than Hartlepool does (75 compared to 59 per 100,000), although 's and Gateshead's are higher. 

The highest rate of week-on-week increase was in Northumberland, where infections rose 255 per cent from 22.5 per 100,000 to 79.9.

The data looks at the average daily rate of positive tests in the week up to September 25, compared to the week to September 18. 

It is not clear whether an increase in testing has led to higher infection rates for some areas - officials insist this is not to blame for cases rising nationally - but data shows that, in Hartlepool, the average number of swab tests being done each day has almost doubled in a month from 111 in late August to 291 in mid-September.

One MP warned last month that it was unfair to impose lockdowns with 'broad brush' tactics that could punish people in areas where levels of the virus were actually relatively low.

Speaking about the use of national restrictions more generally, Conservative MP David Jones told MailOnline: 'I can understand that the Government has to do something, because there is certainly an uptick.

'But it is not an uptick across the country as a whole. There are some parts of the country such as Devon, Dorset where there is very little virus activity at all.

'So it does seem to be very broad brush... I would have thought something more concentrated would be better.'

Newcastle City Council's leader, a member of the Labour Party, has hit out at the Government's decision to impose lockdown rules on the region, apparently without consulting the local authority.

Nick Forbes told local news site Chronicle Live: 'While we have been in discussions with the Government on potential further restrictions the Secretary of State has once again stood up and announced the changes without telling us he was about to do so.

ANGER OVER LOCAL RESTRICTIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS 'DISGRACE' 

Newcastle City Council's leader, a member of the Labour Party, has hit out at the Government's decision to impose lockdown rules on the region, apparently without consulting the local authority.

Nick Forbes told local news site Chronicle Live: 'While we have been in discussions with the Government on potential further restrictions the Secretary of State has once again stood up and announced the changes without telling us he was about to do so.

'We want to work constructively with the Government but the way these measures are being communicated in the headlines and without detail does nothing for public confidence.

'We have demanded clarity on the new restrictions, testing and support for those businesses most affected.'

Mr Forbes accused the Government of 'making it up as they go along'.

And the police and crime commissioner for Northumberland has also expressed her outrage at the suddenness of social distancing laws that her staff will be expected to enforce.

In a tweet today Kim McGuinness said: 'It is an utter disgrace that myself, local council leaders and our police force found out about the tightening of the North East Covid restrictions on the news...

'You can't blame people for being confused when the PM doesn't know which was is up! The government must do better'. 

Newcastle City Council's cabinet member for public health, Irim Ali, warned yesterday: 'The continuing rise in cases across Newcastle is alarming, we must all do our bit to prevent the virus spreading further and to flatten the curve,' Chronicle Live reported. 

Appealing to the public to follow guidance and new laws to stop the spread of Covid-19, she said: 'I know this is difficult, and many of our communities have already sacrificed so much, but if we do not unify as one city we face the very real risk of the virus taking over.

'The additional measures that could be introduced as part of a full local lockdown would be catastrophic for our city, our businesses and our communities.' 

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'We want to work constructively with the Government but the way these measures are being communicated in the headlines and without detail does nothing for public confidence.

'We have demanded clarity on the new restrictions, testing and support for those businesses most affected.'

Mr Forbes accused the Government of 'making it up as they go along'.

And the police and crime commissioner for Northumberland has also

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