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Sacrifices help drive down cases - let's not throw progress away

National lockdown: Stay at home. You must not leave your home unless necessary. Find out what you can and cannot do.

The sacrifices made by people around Middlesbrough are helping to drive the town's Covid rate down.

Leaders have today discussed their intention to push for Tier 2 level restrictions if numbers continue to fall.

Middlesbrough's seven-day infection rate per 100,000 of population climbed above 500 in the second week of November, but had decreased to around 220 on Friday.

Mayor Andy Preston today thanked people and businesses for their sacrifices, but urged them not to "throw away" the progress made. The case rate decreased by 40% between November 19 and 25.

This afternoon, Middlesbrough's Local Outbreak Control Board reviewed encouraging data relating to the infection rate among the over-60s, the overall test positivity rate, South Tees NHS capacity and levels of sickness absence among hospital staff.

All are factors the government will consider before making decisions around tiers.

Middlesbrough will join the rest of the North East in entering Tier 3 when national lockdown ends on Wednesday. Tiers are due to be reassessed on December 16.

After today's meeting, Mr Preston said: "We really have made great strides in the past two weeks, but it's so important we don't throw it all away.

"There's still a long way to go and I'd just urge people to keep being sensible, follow the rules and don't forget the risks when the shops reopen next week at a crucial time for our businesses.

"I've said time and again that we don't want restrictions for a second longer than they're necessary.

"We're watching the data very closely and will be ready to make the case that we should move to Tier 2 if the numbers keep going in the right direction."

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke said: "It was great to hear that there has been a 40% reduction in Middlesbrough over the course of the last week.

"This doesn't mean that we are out of the woods yet, but it does mean that our sacrifices are making a real difference.

"If we are able to maintain this progress I believe there is a real chance of the Tees Valley being able to target and make the move to Tier 2 restrictions at the earliest opportunity.

"This should provide us all with real incentive to keep going and to build on the rapid progress we are now witnessing."

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: "We had an incredibly high Covid level just a few short weeks ago. We have seen that begin to turn, there has been a reduction, but we are still way too high.

"I want to congratulate everybody for the work that they've done. It's by their efforts that we've seen this total decrease across the board. We're far from out of the woods, but if we can sustain this I hope to see the numbers continue to reduce.

"It's only by sticking to the rules that we're going to get there, but people have made a huge effort and that's got to be acknowledged - we're going in the right direction."

Everyone should continue to stay at home, except in specific circumstances and avoid meeting people they don't live with, unless an exemption applies. 

Middlesbrough residents are reminded Covid tests are available from 8am-8pm every day at Cannon Park opposite the Royal Mail, and at Teesside University's Printworks car park off Woodlands Road.

In addition, a mobile unit is positioned in Hemlington on Mondays and Tuesdays and on Cargo Fleet Lane on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Tests can be booked online or by calling 119.

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