03 August 2020 18:32
When the health secretary announced new lockdown measures for Greater Manchester on Thursday night, confusion followed. We can't answer all those questions definitively, but we have spoken to lots of people working at a senior level within the system here and studied the data to try and provide a clearer picture. It's true hospital admissions are still very low in Greater Manchester, according to the mayor and public health officials, and have been low for some time. Andy Burnham addressed this point on Wednesday last week, the day before the new lockdown measures were announced. The lack of a rise in hospital admissions, even though infection rates are increasing, led them 'to conclude the rise in the number of positive cases is amongst the younger population', he told Times Radio.
Little more than 24 hours later, Matt Hancock announced the new restrictions, after the Chief Medical Officer and others examined the same infection data. They have acted because although low hospital admissions - a pattern across the country - are good news, public health experts are still worried by the rise in cases for several reasons. Some parts of Greater Manchester do have rates that are pretty low - notably Wigan, where the infection rate was still in single figures in the week to last Thursday. However apart from in Rochdale, where numbers are still fairly high but have been falling after targeted measures were introduced earlier in July, the rates have been rising everywhere after weeks of broadly going the right way. Trafford's numbers had risen dramatically before the new measures were introduced - from 8 cases per 100,000 to more than 40 in the space of a week, although the rate of increase may now have slowed a little.
Nevertheless, internally, Public Health England does measure the 'positivity rate' of testing numbers in local authority areas - in other words, the percentage of people tested that turn out to have Covid. More than one senior figure believes one answer would be to publish all such data held by Public Health England, as well as the thresholds for when they get worried and a detailed explanation of what measures they would expect to bring in as a result. Some patients in Greater Manchester have been left confused after receiving a text from their GPs which contradicts government advice, just days after increased lockdown restrictions were announced for parts of the North West due to the high infection rates there. As part of an automated public health message sent to some Manchester residents, people were told they could still meet up indoors with members of another household. However, as a result of the new tougher guidelines that were introduced last week, those living in Greater Manchester are not currently allowed to spend time with people from different households in homes and private gardens, with the same rule also applying to spaces like pubs and restaurants. On Friday, the government was accused by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and council leaders of creating "confusion and distress" through the timing and content of its announcement. A major incident was then declared in Greater Manchester on Sunday. Sir Richard Leese, the Labour leader of Manchester City Council, told residents that they "should not be alarmed" by the news, describing the move as "standard practice for complex situations" which require agencies to use extra resources. Greater Manchester currently has seven boroughs on the list of the 20 worst affected local authority areas for coronavirus cases in England. Oldham, the second most badly affected borough in the country, has seen a large increase in its weekly infection rate, after it recorded 148 new cases over a seven-day period. On Monday, Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted figures from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which show that the rate of infection in the North West stands at 1.1. A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. However, Manchester City Council has said that this is "standard practice" and that people should not be alarmed by the news. A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that declaring a major incident was "standard practice for complex situations which require a co-ordinated multi-agency response". "Following last week's government announcement of preventative public health measures across Greater Manchester to address the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the public would expect us to give this situation our concerted collective attention. New lockdown restrictions were announced on Thursday (30 July), banning separate households from meeting at home and in private gardens. The city of Leicester, which saw the UK's first local lockdown on 29 June, is also included in the new restrictions. The new restrictions are coming into place due to current data reflecting the spread of coronavirus infections in these areas. "Based on the data, we decided that in Greater Manchester, parts of West Yorkshire & East Lancashire we need to take immediate action to keep people safe." Out of the 19 local authority areas affected by these new restrictions, the rate of Covid-19 in the seven days to 27 July has gone up in 13 of them. Major incident in Greater Manchester: What does it mean and have the coronavirus lockdown rules changed? There is a major incident in Greater Manchester. What is the major incident in Greater Manchester and have the lockdown rules changed? A major incident was declared in Greater Manchester over the weekend due to increases in coronavirus infection rates. But what is the major incident in Manchester and what are the lockdown rules? What does the major incident in Greater Manchester mean? The Strategic Coordination Group in Greater Manchester made the decision to declare a 'major incident' after they met to discuss the new lockdown measures in the North West of the UK. A major incident has been announced in Greater Manchester. "This will enable us to maximise the capability of agencies across Greater Manchester, including additional resources if required, to instigate a prompt and positive change in direction." He added the aim was to "reduce infection rates and bring Greater Manchester back to as near a state of normality as current times allow." According to The Sun, coronavirus cases have doubled in Manchester in just a week. From July 22 to July 27, the infection rate in Manchester increased from 26.2 to 41.0, while nearby, Oldham had 31 new cases on July 28 which is the highest in one day since May 9. Last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced people from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire would no longer be able to meet each other inside their homes or in gardens.