'No clear reason' why Sunderland's coronavirus infection rate is higher than rest of region, health boss says amid concerns

Sunderland’s director of public health says residents are following guidance but there is ‘no clear picture’ as to why the city has the highest weekly rate of infection.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 8:54 am
Gerry Taylor, Sunderland's Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning.

Gerry Taylor, Executive Director of Public Health and Joint Commissioning says the concerning issue is that the city’s weekly rate of infection ‘isn’t decreasing at the rate it was earlier in the month’ – and there is “no particular reason why.”

The latest figures from Public Health England show there were 1,168 cases in the seven days to January 16 (later dates are excluded for reasons of accuracy) across Sunderland.

This is the equivalent of 428.9 new infections per 100,000 people – the highest rate across the North East’s seven councils.

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Sunderland has highest weekly coronavirus infection rate in the North East

Gerry Taylor said: "I have looked at the data and there is nothing that stands out in terms of a different picture for Sunderland or a different response from our residents in comparison to the rest of the North East.

"Our residents are following the guidance and there is no clear picture as to why we are different to the rest of the region.

"We know that the new variant that is in the North East is having an impact but the concerning issue for Sunderland is that our rate isn’t decreasing at the rate it was earlier in the month and that’s what I’m really concerned about.”

Sunderland’s weekly infection rate is almost a third more than second-placed County Durham with a rate of 321.3 cases per 100,000 population.

Ms Taylor said there is ‘quite a lot of variation’ in the number of cases across the region with the numbers often ‘increasing and decreasing at the same time’ among the North East local authorities.

She added: "There is no particular difference in relation to Sunderland, we are seeing quite a lot of community transmissions between households, some outbreaks in work places and some cases in schools but we don’t have a particular outbreak in one area.

"We really need our population to continue to follow the guidance by staying at home as much as they can, only going out for essential reasons such as essential shopping, work, medical appointment or for exercise and to follow the hands, face, space guidance.”

Covid weekly case rate per 100,000 population for seven North East local authority areas

Sunderland – 428.9

County Durham – 321.3

Gateshead – 315.3

South Tyneside – 293.4

Newcastle upon Tyne – 283.7

Northumberland – 255.6

North Tyneside – 209.7

Based gov.uk data for the seven days up to January 16 (the last five days are excluded in case of changes in data)

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