Rise in Delta covid cases but ‘freedom’ call for double jabbed

Further increases have been seen in coronavirus Delta variant case numbers on Teesside.

Government figures show there were 694 confirmed and probable cases in Middlesbrough in the seven days up to July 14, up 79% from 386.

In Stockton there were 787 confirmed and probable cases, an increase of 54% from 508 and in Redcar and Cleveland 597, up 56% from 381.

Read more: 16 areas of Teesside now have covid rate above 1,000 as confirmed cases continue to soar

The Delta strain, which first originated in India, has become the dominant variant of the coronavirus circulating in the UK.

There were 36,800 new cases recorded in the seven days up to July 14, since the last update which covered seven days up to July 7.

Elsewhere, Hartlepool saw a rise of 72% in confirmed and probable Delta variant cases from 280 to 482 and Darlington a 33% increase from 388 to 519.

Covid-19 infection rates, taking into account all known variants, have increased significantly in recent weeks.

Infection rates have risen above 1,000 per 100,000 people in 16 local council ward areas on Teesside, according to Public Health England data collected in the seven days leading up to July 10.

The worst hit area is Middlesbrough’s Berwick Hills which has an infection rate of 1,350 per 100,000 people.

Hospital admissions from covid have also leapt up, Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital was treating 84 patients with the virus as of Thursday – numbers having increased by 30 in the space of two days.

Hospital officials said three new covid-specific wards had been opened to treat the ill and the patients that were being seen were younger than those in previous waves of the virus.

The Government is lifting restrictions around social contact from Monday (July 19), as part of the last stage of unlocking the country and its economy, but guidance states people will still be expected to wear face coverings in crowded areas in a bid to limit the spread of covid-19.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said the public needed to remain vigilant.

But at the same time he called for the Government to bring forward the date in August that will allow those who have received both of their coronavirus vaccines not to self-isolate, should they be ‘pinged’ by the NHS Track and Trace app.

The system informs people to quarantine if they have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

More than 530,000 alerts or ‘pings’ were sent by the app in the seven days up to July 7 telling people to self-isolate, a 46% rise on the previous week.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, right, at the Teesside Mayoral election in May
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, right, at the Teesside Mayoral election in May

Mr Houchen said large numbers of people were having to be off work in order to stay at home, despite having had maximum protection from two jabs.

He said: “If we do not deliver freedom for the double jabbed then hundreds of thousands more people are going to have self-isolate for no reason, and this is going to have a huge impact on manufacturing, food production and the NHS.

“The Track and Trace app played a hugely important part in getting the coronavirus under control while the life-saving vaccines were being developed and rolled out.

“But now that we have nearly 70% of people double vaccinated, including the vast majority of the most vulnerable, the Government needs to update its guidance and accept that if it’s safe to go to a nightclub after Monday having only one jab, it’s safe for someone to go to work if they’ve had both jabs.

“Learning to live with the virus also means not being paralysed by it, yes we must be vigilant, but businesses and the NHS should not be crippled by an app.”

To sign up for Teesside Live news updates, go here

Teesside Live – Redcar and Cleveland