The north-east will be subject to a 10pm curfew and new restrictions amid a sharp rise in cases of coronavirus, health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed. 

It will mean almost two million people in the region will be under new lockdown restrictions from Friday amid “concerning rates of infection”.

Hospitality venues in the region, which includes  Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham, will be shut from 10pm to 5am. 

It will include a ban on residents socialising with other people outside their households and table service only in bars and restaurants. 

Hancock said: “We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the north-east.

“Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.

“And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.”

It comes as 3,991 new cases were confirmed in the UK on Wednesday, the highest since July. More than 100 people were left needing mechanical ventilator care. 

“The battle against coronavirus is not over,” Hancock told the Commons. 

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused the government of losing its grip on the response to the virus. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London.

It came as the latest data from NHS Test and Trace revealed the government service is failing to cope with demand, with people forced to travel long distances for checks. 

The figures for the week between September 3 and September 9 showed that just one third of “in-person” tests had results back within 24 hours, a dramatic fall on the 66.5% the week before.

It follows the health secretary announcing that Covid tests would be rationed, with sick people and care home residents to get priority. 

Hancock had said “little” on testing, Ashworth said, noting: “It’s become not so much test and trace, more like trace a test.

“At just the point where many fear we’re on the cusp of a second deadly spike, the prime minister admits we don’t have enough capacity.

“And rather than fixing the testing, the secretary of state is restricting testing.”

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