A charity football match was the ‘catalyst’ for a surge in coronavirus infections in Sunderland.
At least 61 people who attended the event at Burnside Working Men’s Club, in Fencehouses, last month (August 30) have tested positive for COVID-19.
And now, with new restrictions coming into force on September 18 to try and halt further transmissions, health chiefs believe it may have sparked a rise in cases across Wearside and the wider North East.
Kath Bailey, a public health specialist at Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases since the end of August.
“The event at Burnside on August 30 acted as the catalyst for the increase, with initially a large outbreak associated with that particular event and then secondary spread across the city.”
She added: “While initially the cases were arising predominantly in younger people and the Houghton and Fencehouses area, we’re now seeing cases in all age groups and all parts of the city.
“The virus is spreading within households and via community transmission and we’re seeing cases, clusters and outbreaks in schools, workplaces and other venues.”
Bailey was speaking at a meeting of the city council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Last week, the leaders of seven North East local authorities requested the government impose tougher restrictions on the region in an attempt to staunch a rising infection rate.
New measures imposed from today include:
- Secondary school pupils to wear face coverings in school communal areas
- A 10pm curfew for licensed premises
- A ban on socialising with people outside your immediate household or support bubble
Bailey added: “We’ve seen a significant rise in cases associated with licensed premises across the city and NHS partners tell us the number of cases in hospitals is rising, indicating the virus is starting to affect the more vulnerable members of our society.”
New rules on childcare have also been clarified, with families barred seeking help from anyone outside their support bubbles, except for professional, registered childcare providers.