Surge testing to be scaled back in North Tyneside after Indian covid variant outbreak as infection rates drop
Surge testing following an outbreak of the Indian Covid variant in North Tyneside will be scaled back next week – with infection rates now dropping.
Council bosses have confirmed that 58 cases of the variant have been discovered in North Tyneside all of whom are now self-isolating and have had contacts traced, and the borough’s infection rate has fallen to 39 per 100,000 people from a peak of 55 earlier this week.
Mobile testing units that have been set up in North Shields, Wallsend and Shiremoor will stay in place until next Tuesday, June 2, before being removed – having carried out 2,492 tests between them so far.
It is understood that local public health officials will then meet with the Government later next week to discuss what further steps may be needed, with hopes that North Tyneside can be removed from a list of eight areas hit by the Indian variant where people are told to ‘minimise’ travel if the trend of falling infection rates continues.
That list was the subject of major controversy and confusion earlier this week, when it emerged that the Government had advised people to avoid all non-essential travel in or out of the eight council areas – but had not told local officials about the change.
It was finally confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that North Tyneside was not subject to any formal travel restrictions, before the Department of Health’s guidance was rewritten.
Wendy Burke, North Tyneside director of public health, said: “Working with our partners we have put in place a range of measures to suppress the virus.
“We have been so proud of the response of the people of North Tyneside who have stepped forward in their thousands to get tested and take up vaccine services.
“Our public health advice to everyone remains the same: the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to follow the guidelines – remember hands, face, space and fresh air, socialise outdoors, work from home if you can, get vaccinated and take up the offer of regular testing.”
According to Public Health England data up to May 25, the North East as a whole has recorded 81 cases of the Indian variant of concern – formally known as B.1.617.2.
That is the lowest of any region in England and accounts for just 1.4% of all cases here.
The three mobile testing units in North Tyneside will stay open from 10am until 4pm until Tuesday.
The council and Tyne and Wear Fire Service also went door to door in parts of North Shields, Wallsend and Whitley Bay to deliver 1,282 PCR test kits this week.
Extra vaccination services will also continue over the coming days, with the hope that more than 3,000 North Tyneside residents will have received their jab in special mobile units by the end of Saturday.