There was “no huge increase in hospitalisations” in Newcastle despite it having the highest rate of new coronavirus cases in England, a public health official has said.
Most cases on Tyneside were among largely unvaccinated under 25s, said the city’s deputy director of public health, Lorna Smith.
There were 2,012 new cases of Covid-19 in Newcastle in the seven days to June 30, the equivalent of 664.4 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 382.1 one week earlier, and is the highest rate for Newcastle for almost eight months, beating the peak of the second wave in January.
Ms Smith said: “Infection rates have increased quickly in most parts of the country, and clearly that is the case for our region.
“It still remains that the majority of cases are among the largely unvaccinated under 25s, who also account for much of the mixing that takes place in social and household settings.
“A much smaller proportion of cases are among the older and more vulnerable age groups and, thanks to the early impacts of the vaccination programme, this is not resulting in a huge increase in hospitalisations compared to previous waves of infections.”
She urged adults to book to have both vaccinations at the earliest opportunity.
Ms Smith also said it was vital for people identified as a close contact of a positive case to self-isolate.
The elected North of Tyne mayor said easing restrictions, including lifting the requirement to wear a mask, should not be left to individuals to decide.
Labour’s Jamie Driscoll told the PA news agency: “We can’t leave it to personal choice as to whether people wear face masks.
“We wouldn’t make obeying speed limits a personal choice.
“The whole point of a face mask is that you are protecting other people, not just yourself.”
He said wearing a mask was a “minor inconvenience” which allowed society to open up.
He added: “We can still go out and enjoy ourselves.
“Businesses can still function but we need to do everything we can to minimise the spread of the disease, to lower the possibility of variants emerging while the vaccine programme continues.
“And I’d urge everyone who hasn’t had both doses of the vaccine to get them as soon as they can.”