The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the North West has risen to 114,178 since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest figures.
Public Health England data shows a further 4,451 positive tests across Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire in the last 24 hours.
Pubs, bars and restaurants in coronavirus hotspots across the North West look set to face fresh restrictions as the Health Secretary today warned Britain was at a “perilous moment” in the pandemic.
Separate data confirms that Nottingham now has the highest rate in England, with 2,294 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 5 – the equivalent of 689.1 cases per 100,000 people.
Knowsley has the second highest rate, which has jumped from 365.2 to 601.2, with 907 new cases. Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has also increased sharply, from 387.9 to 578.7 with 2,882 new cases.
Five of the 10 highest infection rates in England are located in the North West, including Burnley and Sefton, with 14 local authorities registering an infection rate above 300.
The data is based on people being tested both through ‘Pillar 1’ – in hospitals – and Pillar 2 – drive-through test centres and swabs sent by post.
No daily figures have been released showing how many tests have been carried out in each area of the North West.
Total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus by North West borough as of Thursday, October 8:
There are 21,708 cases in Lancashire, 5,889 in Bolton, 3,452 in Bury, 3,655 in Cheshire East, 3,374 in Cheshire West and Chester, 4,153 in Cumbria, 2,052 in Halton, 3,308 in Knowsley, 10,035 in Liverpool, 11,619 in Manchester, 5,241 in Oldham, 4,434 in Rochdale, 4,257 in Salford, 4,238 in Sefton, 3,075 in St Helens, 3,683 in Stockport, 3,816 in Tameside, 3,289 in Trafford, 3,218 in Warrington, 4,733 in Wigan and 4,949 in Wirral.
Some 17,540 lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the UK as of 9am on Thursday, while new figures showed 1,000 more people are in hospital with the virus in England compared to a week ago.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the situation was becoming “very serious”, and that he was “worried” about the growth in the number of cases in parts of the country.
He said he was most concerned about parts of the North West, Yorkshire and North East of England, as well as areas of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Downing Street said on Thursday that a “range of measures” was being looked at to curb the rise, with a particular focus on northern England where it says infection rates are rising fastest.
It comes amid fears that the NHS could be overwhelmed if the virus gets out of control.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the north of England is “not that far away from the health service being stretched”.
“Because even if we turn the epidemic around now, infections that occur today won’t go to hospital for another week or two,” he added.
The Government is reportedly planning to order the closure of pubs in coronavirus hotspots, with ministers considering fresh financial packages to help the hardest hit areas and industries.
But with infection rates soaring in cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, regional leaders criticised the Government for not consulting them ahead of changes.
Leaked Government documents disclosed that a new three-tier system for restrictions will be announced on Monday before measures come into force on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing on Thursday: “We are seeing coronavirus cases rise across the entire country but they are rising faster in the North East and the North West.
“We are keeping the data under close review and we are considering a range of options to reduce the spread of the virus in order to protect communities and to protect the NHS.”
He suggested new restrictions on hospitality could be introduced in England as ministers come under pressure to act after Scotland announced fresh restrictions on the hospitality sector.
“Early data does suggest that a significant proportion of exposure to the virus is seen in the hospitality sector, and that is even more pronounced in younger age groups where we have been seeing the most rapid rise in infections,” the spokesman said.
“The data is new and we will continue to gather evidence and review it.”
He added he is not yet in a position to publish it.
However, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty is said to have told MPs that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in the north of England will surpass the peak in April if infections continue to rise.
The Guardian said MPs were also shown research suggesting that bars, pubs and restaurants accounted for 41% of cases in which two or more under 30s had visited the same venue the week before testing positive.
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