Middlesbrough must act now to avoid the threat of a local lockdown, the town’s businesses and residents are being warned.
Mayor Andy Preston fears the town is “on the fringe of something serious” as he urged people to act responsibly.
Middlesbrough Council and Public Health England are responding to several coronavirus breakouts across the town.
And while appropriate measures are in place to respond to the individual clusters, concern is growing that a further leap in cases could lead to government action.
Mayor Preston said: “It’s never our intention to cause unnecessary alarm, but as a town we need to get a grip of this virus and break the chains of transmission now.
“The problem we have is a scattering of cases from different parts of Middlesbrough that have the potential to grow.
“It’s now beyond urgent that we do all we can to stop the spread.
“Please wear a face covering – for your sake and everyone else’s.
“Wash your hands, keep your distance from those you don’t live with and remember the more contact you have with others the more likely it is you will be infected.”
A further 14 positive tests were reported on Wednesday, following 12 on Tuesday and eight on Monday.
The positive tests span a wide age range and different ethnicities. Several separate sources of infection are under investigation.
Information gathered during contact tracing has identified positive tests linked to individuals returning from overseas as well as pubs and restaurants.
In further developments:
- The council will be visiting pubs and restaurants to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place and will commence enforcement action where necessary
- The council is exploring its legal powers and will consider taking action to close premises that are putting staff and customers at risk
- Anyone with concerns about social distancing measures not being followed is asked to email email@example.com with details
- The council has requested the return of a mobile testing unit to the town centre to add to Middlesbrough’s testing capacity
Mr Preston added: “Other towns and cities around the country have lost freedoms due to high infection rates.
“If we’re not careful we will find ourselves in the same situation where visits to other people’s homes will be banned and certain businesses could close.
“We need to stop the virus spinning out of control in Middlesbrough and stop Covid damaging health and jobs in our town.”
The council is reminding residents of the following urgent advice:
- If you have symptoms, you and everyone in your household must self-isolate
- This means staying at home other than for medical reasons such as attending a test: do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis
- You must not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise must be taken within your home
- Anyone with symptoms, however mild, should book a free test online or by calling 119. The test centre at Middlehaven has capacity for around 800 tests per day and home test kits can also be requested
- Anyone advised to self-isolate after a positive test MUST complete their full period of self-isolation by staying at home
- If you are informed you have been a close contact of someone who has tested positive you MUST continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days even if you have had a negative test
- Everyone must try to stay two metres away from people they don’t live with, wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds and wear a face covering in shared transport or in public places such as shops
The most common symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to taste or smell.
More information on the critical rules around self-isolating is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/