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Covid: North East leaders 'stay at home' message despite virus rate fall

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image captionThe case rate per 100,000 for Tyneside, Wearside, Northumberland and County Durham is less than 400 - the England average rate is around 600

Coronavirus infection rates in the North East are "much lower" than other parts of England, council leaders in the region have said.

In Tyneside, Wearside, Northumberland and County Durham the rate per 100,000 is fewer than 400, compared to 600 in many other areas.

Seven council leaders said the figure was because the North East had been under tougher restrictions for longer.

However, they said the stay at home message remains critical.

In a statement, the leaders said: "The position we find ourselves in may be better than in other parts of the country, but we still have a long way to go.

"If we are to avoid some of the scenes we've seen in London and elsewhere, with hospitals reaching capacity with Covid-19 patients, we must continue do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus.

"There is always a delay between the point of infection and people requiring hospital treatment if they become seriously ill, so we cannot afford to let our guard down."

The statement also added that the new more infectious strain of the virus accounted for roughly half of all cases in the region including in Gateshead, Sunderland and North Tyneside.

"As Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty outlined, reducing your social contact with others remains vital and by following the guidance we can all do our bit to protect our communities," the statement added.

"Stay local and if you do have to go out and you go somewhere that is already busy, turn around and go home."

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