COVID-19 update - 10 September 2020

This bulletin provides important information for people working in health and care across the North East and North Cumbria regarding guidance and actions being co-ordinated across our region to care for patients, staff and our communities in the light of COVID-19. We will do our best to keep you updated with the latest information and key decisions from the Strategic Health Co-ordinating Group. This group is led by Alan Foster, executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. If you have any questions or would like us to send vital information to partners through this bulletin, please contact us here.
Message from Alan Foster
Alan Foster
The rule of six

As I’m sure you’re all aware, the government has this week announced new measures to help control COVID-19 and keep the number of infections down.

From Monday 14 September, any gathering of more than six people in England will be illegal, unless it meets one of a limited list of exemptions. From Monday, this limit will be enforceable in law. Further guidance on social contact can be found here.

In last week’s update, I mentioned that this is not the time to become complacent, and this is something that is worth reiterating again today. Both ourselves and our seven local authority leaders have issued strong warnings about the growing number of coronavirus cases in the region and reminded people of the rules and the consequences of not following them.

Our colleagues at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust have today taken the difficult but important decision to temporarily suspend visiting to all adult inpatient wards from tomorrow (11th September).


We all have a part to play to control the virus and communicating with the public about what they can do will be crucial.

Next week I will be writing about how you can get involved with our #DoYourBit campaign which will be asking everyone to do what they can protect themselves and each other. I do hope we can all work together through this.

As part of this, we will be continuing to reinforce our messages on the importance of maintaining hand hygiene, adhering to social distancing guidance, wearing a face covering and getting tested.


While we have vastly expanded our testing capacity since the start of the pandemic, we have seen demand for testing increase significantly in recent weeks. As we all know, it's really important that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can get a test easily and the results quickly. This will help us stop the spread of the virus.

However, as we manage this period of high demand, we will be reminding the public that it is especially important that if they don’t have symptoms, and have not specifically been advised to take a test, not to come forward for a test. Doing so takes a test away from someone who really needs it. This message will become increasingly important as we head into the winter months and more people will get colds and the flu.


As you know from my previous updates we will be delivering our biggest flu vaccination programme this year as we seek to reduce the number of people who need treatment this winter. To support this, we will be rolling out our regional #DoYourBit flu campaign. This will highlight how it has never been more important to have your flu vaccine and that it’s safe to come to be vaccinated with strict infection control measures in place.

Looking after our mental health

Today is World Suicide Prevention day and with this in mind I wanted to reiterate how important it is for people to seek help and support during these challenging times. Our Suicide Prevention Network has a number of helpful resources on their website which you can find here.

At the height of the pandemic, our colleagues at CNTW began offering psychological wellbeing support to staff across the whole North East and Cumbria health and care system. This confidential support line is still available and is now being extended to include education, police, fire and prison service staff. For information on how to access the helpline, see here.

I would once again like to thank you all for your continued hard work. Make no mistake, whatever your contribution, you are making a huge difference to the lives of people we serve and our dedicated teams of staff.

Keep it up everyone.

Best wishes,


Alan Foster is executive lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System

News and updates

The R number in the UK: The latest reproduction number (R) and growth rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK can be found here on GOV.UK.

Public Health England dashboard: The Public Health England (PHE) dashboard can be found here. Daily reporting includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community. The report also includes case rates per 100,000 resident population at lower-tier local authority level.

Get Well for Winter: Skills For People and the North East and Cumbria Learning Disability Network have launched a new campaign aimed at people with a learning disability and anybody who supports them in our region. For more information, please see here.