A further 479 new coronavirus cases were confirmed across the North West in the last 24 hours as Boris Johnson announced new coronavirus restrictions and rules.
The total number of cases across Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cumbria, and Cheshire now stands at 57,222, according to figures published by Public Health England this evening (September 9).
Separate PHE data shows how seven out of the top 10 highest infection rates in England are in the North West, with Bolton first, Tameside fourth, Preston fifth, Salford sixth, Blackburn with Darwen eighth, Manchester ninth and Rochdale tenth.
In Bolton, 377 new cases were recorded in the seven days to September 6 – the equivalent of 131.1 per 100,000 people. This is the highest rate in England and it is up sharply from 72.0 in the seven days to August 30.
Bury, Burnley, Hyndburn, Oldham, Wirral and Pendle all make up the top 20 with a total of 14 North West areas now classed as ‘red alert’ as their infection rates are above 50 per 100,000 people.
This includes Liverpool where the number of new cases has surged from 86 to 250, pushing its infection rate from 17.3 to 50.2. No areas of Cumbria or Cheshire make the top 20 list or are classed as having ‘red alert’ status.
The areas managed by Lancashire County Council now have 8,766 positive tests of Covid-19. In Blackpool there are now 1,134 while in Blackburn with Darwen the number has risen to 1,963.
Blackburn with Darwen recorded the biggest daily rise with 15 cases while Burnley and Preston’s tally rose by 12 and 10 respectfully.
Double-digit rises in new cases were also recorded in Bolton, Bury, Cheshire East, Cumbria, Knowsley, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Sefton, St Helens, Stockport, Tameside, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral.
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 Wednesday, September 9:
There are 11,863 cases in Lancashire, 2,841 in Bolton, 1,728 in Bury, 2490 in Cheshire East, 2,219 in Cheshire West and Chester, 3,108 in Cumbria, 783 in Halton, 1,155 in Knowsley, 3,158 in Liverpool, 4,728 in Manchester, 3,105 in Oldham, 2,429 in Rochdale, 2,041 in Salford, 1,803 in Sefton, 1,366 in St Helens, 2,082 in Stockport, 2,126 in Tameside, 1,790 in Trafford, 1,542 in Warrington, 2,442 in Wigan and 2,423 in Wirral
The figures come as people face up to six months of coronavirus restrictions after a huge surge in cases.
Government experts are planning for the new ban on gatherings larger than six people to be in place for at least three months, the Mirror understands.
And if there is no change in circumstances, such as a vaccine breakthrough, they fear restrictions could be in place for six months.
It came as Boris Johnson confirmed it will be illegal to gather in groups of more than six in England from Monday.
In a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister finally admitted he was forced to “simplify” the rules after they “have become quite complicated and confusing”.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty today declined to say exactly how long the new ban on gatherings will last.
But he said “it’s very unlikely to be over in just two or three weeks.”
Mr Johnson claimed: “I’m still hopeful that in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas.”
But Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference: “The period between now and spring is going to be difficult because this is a respiratory virus.”
Mr Johnson admitted the hard limit of six people will hit large families who can no longer have all the grandparents round for Sunday lunch.
The PM said it “breaks my heart”.
He added: “I’m sorry about that and I wish we did not have to take this step. But as your Prime Minister I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives.”
But he told a Downing Street press conference “we must act” – and claimed the new restrictions could help avoid a second full national lockdown.
There will be exemptions for weddings and funerals, work and school, and for households or “support bubbles” that are larger than six people.
The government’s scientists now believe the ‘R’ – the number of people infected by each Covid-19 carrier – is above 1, but haven’t announced how much by yet.
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the new law may stretch “potentially beyond” Christmas.
Mr Johnson did not put a time limit on the ban on large gatherings, saying he would keep it “under constant review and only keep it in place as long as is necessary.”
However, it’s understood officials are planning for it to be in place for at least three months.
Keep up to date with coronavirus cases in your area by using your postcode below
You can sign up for free daily updates with the LancsLive newsletter here.
For the latest news and breaking news visit the LancsLive website.
Get all the big headlines, pictures, analysis, opinion and video on the stories that matter to you.
Have you got news for us? Contact our newsdesk on firstname.lastname@example.org.