Burnside football match branded 'catalyst' for Sunderland spike - and helped lead to North East lockdown-style restrictions

Burnside WMC. Picture: Google ImagesBurnside WMC. Picture: Google Images
Burnside WMC. Picture: Google Images
A charity football match was the ‘catalyst’ for a surge in coronavirus infections in Sunderland, a health chief has said.

And now, with new restrictions in force in the North East to try and halt further transmissions, health chiefs believe the Burnside may have sparked a rise in cases across Wearside and the wider North East.

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Kath Bailey, a public health specialist at Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases since the end of August.

“The event at Burnside on August 30 acted as the catalyst for the increase, with initially a large outbreak associated with that particular event and then secondary spread across the city.”

She added: “While initially the cases were arising predominantly in younger people and the Houghton and Fence Houses area, we’re now seeing cases in all age groups and all parts of the city.

“The virus is spreading within households and via community transmission and we’re seeing cases, clusters and outbreaks in schools, workplaces and other venues.”

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Ms Bailey was speaking at this afternoon’s meeting of the city council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Since August 31 there have been at least 530 new confirmed cases of the virus in the city.

Earlier this week, the leaders of seven North East local authorities requested the government impose tougher restrictions on the region in an attempt to staunch a rising infection rate.

New measures imposed from September 18 include:

:: A ban on socialising with people outside your immediate household or support bubble

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:: Secondary school pupils to wear face coverings in school communal areas

:: A 10pm curfew for licensed premises

Ms Bailey added: “We’ve seen a significant rise in cases associated with licensed premises across the city and NHS partners tell us the number of cases in hospitals is rising, indicating the virus is starting to affect the more vulnerable members of our society.”

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