Covid figures released for Greater Manchester - 10 February
MAYOR Andy Burnham held his weekly coronavirus conference this afternoon (Wednesday 10 February) to deliver an update on the COVID-19 figures for Greater Manchester and comment on the progress of the vaccination programme in the area. The Mayor was joined by Sir Richard Leese and Baroness Beverley Hughes.
Really well done to all the staff involved and the enormous number of volunteers...fantastic
Mr Burnham also used the opportunity to discuss "lessons learned" from 2020. “We have always maintained that the case rate was too high here when the first lockdown was lifted,” said the Mayor, "it lead to a significant amount of infection in our district". GM was therefore "trapped" in a "never-ending period of restrictions". Mr Burnham spoke to The Times of his opposition to the tier system which he said "is not effective".
Mr Burnham has previously said that the system "created confusion among the public" and has called for a “phased national release."
The Mayor also told Sky's Sophy Ridge that there should be greater supplies of vaccines into areas where life expectancy is lower and has urged the government to put in place a "simple system" that supports people who need to self-isolate.
The Mayor has called on the Government to "follow the slowest" and have a phased national release beginning with schools in early March.
The numbers have gone down by just over 10% over the last seven days which is slightly higher than the national average.
Sir Richard noted there is some slight concern about Bolton which is not going down as fast as the other other areas.
The 30-44 age range population still the highest with the over 65s improving the most.
Relatively high levels of testing due to symptomatic and asymptomatic testing are being carried out across GM. “This is part of a fairly sophisticated strategy to be able to contain new variants” says Sir Richard. These figures do not take account of surge testing in Hulme/Moss Side that has just begun, so figures will be substantially increased next week.
On the surge testing, four cases in two unconnected households of the E484K mutation - linked to the known Kent strain - have been detected and further investigations are underway to understand if this form of the virus has spread further.
Referring to the incidence of the new strain, Dr Will Welfare, deputy director for health protection at Public Health England North West, has said: “As part of our testing work, Public Health England has identified in the Moss Side area of Manchester a small number of Covid-19 cases of the variant first identified in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.”
Everyone in the designated test area will be given a PCR swab test and the test result takes a couple of days to come back. See the box below for further details on the surge testing in the Hulme, Moss Side and Whalley Range areas
The numbers of care residents showing symptoms of COVID-19 is still falling.
Over 600,000 vaccinations have been carried out. "We are confident that all four top categories have been offered the vaccine," said Sir Richard. This means that Greater Manchester has exceeded the Government's target of vaccinating the top four groups by mid-February.
"Really well done to all the staff involved and the enormous number of volunteers...fantastic," said Sir Richard. Mr Burnham echoed the remarks, saying it was an "amazing effort."
Admissions are about 20% down on a week and seem to be stabilising. Discharging is up which takes a lot of pressure off the hospitals. Intensive and critical care is also trending down.
The expectation is to return to elective procedures around the end of March. "Clinical staff are pretty exhausted" noted Sir Richard, who went on to say that recovery time for the staff will have to be built into any plan for hospitals.
The big story from last week was the incident at a cafe in Burnage on Sunday, where around 50 people were gathered in breach of COVID-19 restrictions (some reports put the figure at over 100).
Greater Manchester Police later said an investigation has been launched after an altercation took place. Footage of the incident was circulated on social media and has since been referred to GMP's Professional Standards Branch.
GMP stated that while initial reviews suggested officers' actions were reasonable, when assessed within the wider context of the situation it had been referred in line with policy.
Lucjan Domanski, 38, of Chapel Street, Levenshulme, will appear at Manchester City Magistrates' Court on 23 February in relation to the incident.
A gofundme has since been started to cover Mr Domanski's legal fees and currently stands at over £16,000.
The city council is now looking to close the premises.
Baroness Hughes noted there has been an overall increase in fixed penalty notices with 180 just from the weekend - mostly in connection with large gatherings and house parties. Manchester students have also been issued with more fixed penalty notices this week over the previous week. Business compliance has been good with some exceptions notably with some gyms operating illegally.
Follow Lucy Tomlinson on Twitter @hotcupoftea
Surge testing in Hulme
Testing began yesterday (Tuesday 9 February) and more than 10,000 tests will be supplied to the community. Additional testing sites will be set up in the area to enable everyone over the age of 16 who live, works, or studies in in the designated area to get a test as quickly as possible.
In the coming days, volunteers will also begin knocking on people's doors to offer alternative testing for anyone who can't get out to a testing site, and testing will also be made available for people who work in the area but don't necessarily live in the area.
If you live in any of the following post code areas, please check the Council's website:
M14 4, M14 7, M15 5, M15 6, M16 7, M16 8
Testing sites will be located at:
Our Lady's R C Church, Our Ladys Presbytery, Raby Street, M16 7JQ
Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara, 15 Monton Street, M14 4LS
These sites will operate as walk-up centres with no need to book a test in advance.