5 ways you can help flatten spike in Stockton-on-Tees COVID-19 cases
"We've had a spike in cases and we need your help to flatten it."
That's the plea from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council following an increase in cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Borough.
There were 25 new confirmed cases in the week to August 30, a rate of 12.7 new cases per 100,000.
That's up from five new cases the previous week and daily case numbers so far this month have also given some cause for concern.
"We need to act now to get this under control and avoid the threat of a local lockdown," said Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Borough's Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG).
"And with schools going back and more people returning to workplaces we're renewing our calls for everybody to do their bit to keep themselves and others safe.
"If we do, we can get our numbers back down but if we don't, then they'll continue to rise. It's that simple.
"We can't do this without the support of the public and local businesses, particularly pubs and restaurants."
Here are five ways you can help.
1. If you have symptoms, stay at home and book a test
The symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
"If you have these symptoms - no matter how mild - book a test either online or by calling 119," said Councillor Cook. "It's important that you do this as soon as possible.
"It's also important that you and everyone in your household stays at home to self-isolate.
"A mobile testing site is available in the Dairy car park in Stockton town centre in addition to the main testing centre at Middlehaven in Middlesbrough, but you've got to book."
2. But ONLY get a test if you have symptoms
"There's a lot of strain on testing capacity, so it's very important that you only get a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been asked to get tested because you are a contact of a case," said Councillor Cook.
"If you don't have symptoms, then please don't book a test unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional or NHS Test and Trace. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one."
3. Self-isolate if you're told to
If you are informed you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 you can expect a call from NHS Test and Trace.
And if they tell you to self-isolate then you must stay at home for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the infected person.
"This applies even if you have had a negative test," said Councillor Cook.
Remember, the COVID Community Support Team can support vulnerable and elderly residents with food deliveries, shopping, picking up prescriptions or making sure people who are self-isolating and may be worried or lonely get the support they need.
The team can be contacted on 01642 733906 between 9am and 12noon, Monday to Friday or by emailing email@example.com.
4. Don't forget basics like hand washing, social distancing, and face coverings
"Some of the most effective ways we can prevent the spread of this virus are the most straightforward," said Councillor Cook.
"Remember social distancing - that means trying to stay two metres away from people you don't live with. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. Wear a face covering in shared transport or in public places such as shops.
"It's not just about protecting yourself, it's about protecting other people too, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the effects of the virus."
5. Take extra care in pubs and restaurants
"You only have to look in the media on any given day and you'll see stories about cases linked to gatherings in pubs and restaurants," said Councillor Cook.
"Now I know lots of pubs and restaurants have gone to great lengths to ensure social distancing and the diligent recording of customers' details for track and trace purposes, and they are to be applauded for their efforts as responsible licensees.
"But there are others that are just not doing their bit and they are putting people at risk.
"That's why we're backing the Local Government Association's calls for councils to be given tougher licensing powers to close these places down.
"And as a customer, you can help protect yourself by following the guidelines."
You can keep up with all Coronavirus (COVID-19) related developments in the Borough via the Council's webpage Stockton Borough Council.