Death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
It is with great sadness that Gateshead Council has heard the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

A message from Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health

Alice Wiseman - covid message

"This week, lockdown restrictions were eased to allow friends and families to meet outdoors in groups of six people or two households, just in time for the lighter nights, schools breaking up, the Easter bank holidays and the second weekend of Passover. The number of positive Covid cases has remained relatively low over the last few weeks and more than half of the adults in Gateshead have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

All in all, it feels like we're getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel and we have every reason to feel optimistic - but as ever, we can't afford to get complacent. As we've seen before, easing restrictions can lead to a surge in infections so it's essential that we continue to tread carefully and there are three key things you can do to help us get back to a more normal way of life.

Testing

Firstly, regular rapid results testing is now available to many Gateshead residents including people who work in close contact with others and the families of school-age children. If you're eligible for routine testing, please keep testing yourself regularly and report your results, even if you've already had your vaccine.

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don't have any symptoms and may be spreading the virus without realising, so routine testing can help prevent this. It can also help to keep our schools open by making the difference between one household isolating and a whole school year bubble being sent home. Testing should still be carried out over the school holidays.

It's important to remember though, that rapid results kits should not be used to test anyone with symptoms, so if you develop a new, continuous cough, high temperature or change to your sense of taste or smell, you must arrange a PCR test as soon as possible and self-isolate until you get the results.

I know that self-isolation can be extremely difficult for many people, but it's absolutely crucial in stopping the spread of the virus. Please don't forget that support is available for anyone who needs to self-isolate, either because they have tested positive or because they have been in close contact with someone else who has.

Vaccination

Secondly, the vaccination programme is continuing to make fantastic progress and I'm extremely thankful to all of our NHS colleagues and other partners for making it happen.

I understand that many people will have concerns about being vaccinated, but I want to assure you that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are safe and effective. Both products have been through a rigorous testing process and both the MHRA and World Health Organisation are confident that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, so I'd encourage everyone to get their vaccine as soon as it's offered to them.

If you've already had your first dose, thank you. Don't forget you need both doses for maximum protection, so please keep your second appointment.

Hands, face, space, fresh air

Thirdly, we must keep following the rules. According to the government's roadmap, we're just a few weeks away from reopening non-essential retailers, outdoor hospitality and personal care settings, which is great news for our local economy - but let's not forget that this will only happen if the data allows it, and the data will only allow it if we all keep playing our part.

Even if you have had your vaccine or you've recently had a negative test result, please keep washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering, keeping your distance from others and crucially, only socialise with people from outside your household outdoors. Please don't be tempted to break the rule of six or two households, or to invite visitors inside from the garden. You should also continue to work from home if you can and keep travel to a minimum.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for all that you're doing to keep us on the right track and wish you a happy and safe Easter. We've all made so many sacrifices over the last year, so let's not let them go to waste."

Find out more about Covid-19 support in Gateshead

Alice Wiseman - covid message
31 March 2021

"This week, lockdown restrictions were eased to allow friends and families to meet outdoors in groups of six people or two households, just in time for the lighter nights, schools breaking up, the Easter bank holidays and the second weekend of Passover. The number of positive Covid cases has remained relatively low over the last few weeks and more than half of the adults in Gateshead have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

All in all, it feels like we're getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel and we have every reason to feel optimistic - but as ever, we can't afford to get complacent. As we've seen before, easing restrictions can lead to a surge in infections so it's essential that we continue to tread carefully and there are three key things you can do to help us get back to a more normal way of life.

Testing

Firstly, regular rapid results testing is now available to many Gateshead residents including people who work in close contact with others and the families of school-age children. If you're eligible for routine testing, please keep testing yourself regularly and report your results, even if you've already had your vaccine.

Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don't have any symptoms and may be spreading the virus without realising, so routine testing can help prevent this. It can also help to keep our schools open by making the difference between one household isolating and a whole school year bubble being sent home. Testing should still be carried out over the school holidays.

It's important to remember though, that rapid results kits should not be used to test anyone with symptoms, so if you develop a new, continuous cough, high temperature or change to your sense of taste or smell, you must arrange a PCR test as soon as possible and self-isolate until you get the results.

I know that self-isolation can be extremely difficult for many people, but it's absolutely crucial in stopping the spread of the virus. Please don't forget that support is available for anyone who needs to self-isolate, either because they have tested positive or because they have been in close contact with someone else who has.

Vaccination

Secondly, the vaccination programme is continuing to make fantastic progress and I'm extremely thankful to all of our NHS colleagues and other partners for making it happen.

I understand that many people will have concerns about being vaccinated, but I want to assure you that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are safe and effective. Both products have been through a rigorous testing process and both the MHRA and World Health Organisation are confident that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, so I'd encourage everyone to get their vaccine as soon as it's offered to them.

If you've already had your first dose, thank you. Don't forget you need both doses for maximum protection, so please keep your second appointment.

Hands, face, space, fresh air

Thirdly, we must keep following the rules. According to the government's roadmap, we're just a few weeks away from reopening non-essential retailers, outdoor hospitality and personal care settings, which is great news for our local economy - but let's not forget that this will only happen if the data allows it, and the data will only allow it if we all keep playing our part.

Even if you have had your vaccine or you've recently had a negative test result, please keep washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering, keeping your distance from others and crucially, only socialise with people from outside your household outdoors. Please don't be tempted to break the rule of six or two households, or to invite visitors inside from the garden. You should also continue to work from home if you can and keep travel to a minimum.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for all that you're doing to keep us on the right track and wish you a happy and safe Easter. We've all made so many sacrifices over the last year, so let's not let them go to waste."

Find out more about Covid-19 support in Gateshead

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