Leaders from seven North East authorities – including Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller and his South Tyneside and Northumberland counterparts, Iain Malcolm and Glen Sanderson – have issued a stark warning for the region.
It comes as a number of schools and businesses, including pubs, clubs and restaurants, have had to close temporarily during the ongoing pandemic.
The statement, also signed by the leaders of Newcastle, Durham, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils, read: “We are deeply concerned at the increasing number of positive coronavirus cases we are seeing across the region, particularly among young adults.
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"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.
"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.
"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.”