North-East leaders have issued a stern warning over the worrying spike in Covid-19 cases across the region.

Seven local councils and the North of Tyne mayor have united in urging residents to prevent the virus from getting “out of control” and to avoid the need for a “devastating” second lockdown.

The plea comes after new data showed that coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in the North-East.

Gateshead now has the highest rate of infection in the region, with 45.4 cases per 100,000 people – with the borough’s number of cases tripling in a week.

South Tyneside was added to Public Health England’s watchlist late last week, with council officials there warning that the area faced a local lockdown if case numbers did not come down.

The infection rate in Sunderland is more than four times the level it was a week ago, and it has more than doubled in Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland.

In a joint statement, council leaders from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham, plus mayor Jamie Driscoll, said they were “deeply concerned”.

The spike in positive cases has been seen particularly among young adults and the eight leaders slammed the “significant minority” holding house parties, having events with “unregulated” crowds, and ignoring social distancing rules. Newcastle health chiefs reported that almost two thirds of the city’s new cases in the week to September 5 were among under-30s.

Hundreds of people who attended a charity football match on August 30 at the Burnside working men’s club, on the border of Sunderland and Durham, are being asked to self-isolate after 28 people who were there tested positive for Covid.

The statement was signed by councillors Nick Forbes (Newcastle), Glen Sanderson (Northumberland), Martin Gannon (Gateshead), Iain Malcolm (South Tyneside), Graeme Miller (Sunderland), and Simon Henig (Durham), and mayors Norma Redfearn (North Tyneside) and Jamie Driscoll (North of Tyne).