The Euro 2020 final contributed towards a surge in coronavirus cases in the North East of England, a public health director has said.

Mark Adams, joint director of public health for Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland – which have the highest rates of new cases in the country – said the match, which England lost on penalties to Italy, helped ‘supercharge’ infections in the region.

The North East has been badly affected by the third wave and was recently given extra testing and vaccination support to help tackle a huge rise in cases.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Adams said: ‘The rates tended to kick off just after the Euros football final – our three highest days were three-to-five days after that final, so I think our momentum was kind of picking up then and that event just supercharged it up to the unfortunate position we found ourselves in.’

Middlesbrough continues to have the highest rate in the country, with 981 new cases in the seven days to July 26 – the equivalent of 695.8 per 100,000 people.

This is down from 1,421.5 in the seven days to July 19.

Redcar & Cleveland has the second highest rate, down from 1,520.2 to 668.6, with 917 new cases.

Mr Adams said: ‘What we have seen over the last week is our rates have more than halved, and so even though everyone else’s rates are coming down as well, our rates seem to be coming down very quickly.

‘So I think areas like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and places you’ve seen in the North West and further north in the North East, are more susceptible to Covid because of the types of jobs that people do, the inability to work from home – Middlesbrough was cited in the ONS survey of being in the bottom 10 of areas where people are able to work from home.’

Mr Adams said his team was contacting those people who had not yet come forward for their first vaccine jab to encourage them.

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