Sunderland stands on coronavirus 'knife edge' as new cases double
Sunderland stands on a coronavirus ‘knife edge’ with the number of new coronavirus cases in the city rising, the city’s public health expert has warned.
The latest figures show the number of new cases in the city in the last 14 days was double that of the previous fortnight.
Now Sunderland Council’s Director of Public Health, Gillian Gibson, is urging people to wear face coverings in public places as new rules come into force tomorrow.
She said: "We were in a really good position a couple of weeks ago, with cases down to 0.7 per 100,000 people, but we have seen a rise in the number of people testing positive for Covid following the continued easing of the lockdown, with new cases more than doubling from seven to 15 in the last 14 days.
"Covid has definitely not gone away and we really are on a knife edge in terms of which way it could go.
"This makes it all the more essential that each and every one of us does all we can to make sure we don't reach the position where we have to consider the kind of measures we have seen introduced in places like Blackburn with Darwen or face a local lockdown like we've seen in Leicester.”
Authorities have been given powers to deal with local lockdowns which could led to schools and businesses being closed and public areas such as parks being locked off.
From Friday, July 24, it will be compulsory to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets.
Those failing to comply could face fines of £100, reduced to £50 if they pay within 14 days.play their part in the battle against Covid-19 by following the new legislation on face coverings.
Ms Gibson said it is vital that people in Sunderland wear facemasks in public places and try to adhere to two metres social distancing where possible in light of the increase in cases.
She said: "I know some people may find wearing a face covering a bit strange initially but this is about us all playing our part and helping to protect each other.
“We are seeing new research that suggests that wearing a face covering helps reduce the spread of the virus, protecting yourself and others."
"Face coverings don't need to be to a medical standard – the most important thing is that they cover both the mouth and nose, and that people continue to follow good hygiene practices and maintain social distancing while wearing them.”
Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director and Consultant Acute Physician at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said that the NHS needs people ‘now more than ever’ to follow guidance.
He said: "Thanks to the amazing support of the public who have followed the guidance and helped minimise the risk of the virus, we have managed to significantly reduce the amount of people coming into our hospitals with COVID-19.
“Now, more than ever, we need to see this support continue, so please protect yourselves and others and wear a face covering, continue to social distance and wash your hands regularly.”
Face covering should be worn at all times on public transport and when attending a hospital as a visitor or outpatient unless they are exempt on medical grounds.
Sunderland City Council is also asking people to wear face coverings when they visit Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, council libraries and customer service centres from Friday.
Anyone who develops a new or continuous cough, a fever, or experiences a change to their taste or sense of smell should self-isolate immediately and book a coronavirus test. To find out how to book a test, visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.