All 51,899 North West cases as new lockdown announcement due

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the North West has risen to 51,899 in the latest figures.

Public Health England data released today (August 26) shows a further 191 positive tests across Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire in the last 24 hours.

It comes as the next announcement on restrictions in parts of Lancashire and Greater Manchester is due to take place after a Government meeting tomorrow.

The area managed by Lancashire County Council now has 8,023 positive tests of the virus. In Blackpool there are 1,094 while in Blackburn with Darwen the number has risen by 21 to 1,797.

Eleven of Lancashire’s 14 boroughs recorded at least one new case since yesterday while Cumbria’s tally rose to 3,013 after three districts announced new cases.

Double digit increases were also registered in Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and the Wirral, while the numbers have fallen slightly again in Knowsley. This is most likely due to a recording error.

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.

Total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus by North West borough as of Wednesday, August 26:

There are 10,914 cases in Lancashire, 2,238 in Bolton, 1,550 in Bury, 2,361 in Cheshire East, 2,125 in Cheshire West and Chester, 3,013 in Cumbria, 733 in Halton, 1,066 in Knowsley, 2,808 in Liverpool, 4,125 in Manchester, 2,803 in Oldham, 2,188 in Rochdale, 1,742 in Salford, 1,659 in Sefton, 1,273 in St Helens, 1,964 in Stockport, 1,870 in Tameside, 1,626 in Trafford, 1,402 in Warrington, 2,297 in Wigan, and 2,142 in Wirral

A meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will be held tomorrow chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Last week Mr Hancock announced a more targeted approach to restrictions in which the views of MPs would also be sought to gain “the maximum possible local consensus”.

He added this would allow local councils to focus resources on the wards which need more targeted intervention in order to drive infection rates down.

People living in specific wards in Pendle and Blackburn in Lancashire, along with the borough of Oldham, Greater Manchester, were told not to socialise with anyone outside their household from midnight on Saturday and only to use public transport if essential.

Council leaders in Blackburn welcomed the opportunity to concentrate their resources and efforts on a “really local level” but their counterparts in Greater Manchester have rejected the ward-by-ward approach.

Mayor Andy Burnham said implementing covid restrictions on a ward-by-ward basis are a “recipe for utter confusion, division and chaos”.

He told the Government they want to continue with a borough-wide approach as they recommended current restrictions on social gatherings in homes in Stockport and Bolton should be removed.

Speaking today, Mr Burnham said: “I wouldn’t say this was a unanimous position but it was certainly the overwhelming consensus of our meeting that that is not a road we should go down. It is a recipe for utter confusion, division and chaos, and we are saying to the Government we do not want to work in that way.

“To play in the concerns of Members of Parliament, obviously they are valid and need to be heard, but you cannot say views from one community alone can dictate what happens for the whole of a borough.

“So we are saying very clearly back to the Government today that it is the council leaders and their teams themselves that need to be in the driving seat when it comes to decisions about the lifting of restrictions. People do not want to see a division within particular boroughs.”

The Mayor also cautioned that “some people were playing politics at a local level with these issues”.

He said: “You cannot have a situation where a very parochial view is being taken of this where people are just looking at their own patch as a Member of Parliament and not giving wider consideration to the bigger picture.”

Political consensus was reached in Stockport and Bolton as both have asked the Government to follow Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen in recently falling in with restrictions in the rest of England.

Mr Burnham said that Mr Hancock would be asked to maintain restrictions in Oldham, Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Tameside, Salford and Trafford.

Leaders in Bury said the borough was in the “last chance saloon” at avoiding going into further lockdown after a sixth weekly rise in infection rates.

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Lancs Live – Cumbria