Covid figures released for Greater Manchester
The Metro Mayor Andy Burnham gave a press conference this afternoon (Wednesday 27 January) to deliver an update on the COVID-19 figures for Greater Manchester and comment on the progress of the vaccination programme in the area. He was joined by deputy mayor Beverley Hughes to comment on policing issues.
The Mayor began the conference by acknowledging both Holocaust Memorial Day and the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 nationally.
the staff have pulled out all the stops…this is a monumental effort
In Manchester 5880 people have died of coronavirus. The Mayor said, “They are always someone’s mum, someone’s dad, nan, granddad, neighbour, work colleague. They are all people who contributed to life here in Greater Manchester. We need to take a moment to think about that.”
Mr Burnham then pointed out that there is an online memorial space available at GM Remembers for anyone who wishes to use it to remember loved ones.
The number of positive diagnoses of COVID-19 per 100,000 population fell this week to 320.5 for the whole of Greater Manchester, down from 395. Stockport has recorded a decrease of almost 100 points from 394.3 to 294.8. Trafford, Stockport and Oldham have all dipped below the 300 mark.
The Mayor said that "the number's still high" but that the fact it is decreasing “is significant”, however that the effect is not as “decisive” as the first lockdown.
Mr Burnham also pointed out that the figures reflect that the strain first found in the South of England is now the “dominant strain”. Up to 70% of the cases in Tameside, for example, have been found to be of that strain.
The figures suggest there is infection across the age range, though still highest in the younger groups.
Testing rates are higher across all ten boroughs due to the implementation of lateral flow testing.
Approximately 30,469 people have received one or two doses of vaccine across Greater Manchester.
A positive start to the vaccine programme has been undercut by news that vaccine supplies to the North West of England will be cut by just over a third next month. The total number of vaccinations will drop from 310,000 to 200,000 for the whole of the region.
The cuts come as other regions need the supplies in order to hit the mid-February target of vaccinating all four of the top priority groups.
The Mayor said he will be asking questions about this but he has been told that we will receive enough vaccine to hit the target. Nevertheless he is “a little concerned about the reduction.”
The current rate of vaccination is 100,000 a week and if the supplies allow this to continue this means Greater Manchester will hit the mid-February deadline. The Mayor said that he takes the reassurances at face value and hopes they will stay true to their word of keeping up supply. He noted that he is only speaking for Manchester and not the whole of the North West.
There are now 78 vaccination centres up and running in the region and Mr Burnham said “the staff have pulled out all the stops…this is a monumental effort.”
Hospital admission figures are reported to give an indication of the stress the NHS is currently facing in the area. This week, 382 people were admitted with coronavirus which Mr Burnham commented is “a very high number”. Infections detected in hospital numbered 617. On the 26 January, 165 critical care beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19.
The Mayor said that the modelling indicates that the peak of the pressure will arrive this weekend but that there will be a plateau of high demand for the future. Mr Burnham added that the staff are “under intense pressure.”
Care home residents showing signs of infection have increased from 2.1% to 2.6%, which Mr Burnham said is "concerning". He then noted 96% of residents of care homes across Greater Manchester have been offered the vaccine.
Mr Burnham has written to the Chancellor to demand that people excluded from financial support now be offered support by the Government. He said: “Chancellor you need to act and you need to act now. It is morally unjustifiable to leave people behind in this the most of difficult winters.”
This week has been very busy for the Greater Manchester Police. GMP has issued notices for 1427 COVID breaches including 788 house parties which is the largest source of contraventions, according to Deputy Mayor Beverly Hughes
A court dedicated to fixed penalty notices court was held on the 14 of January, and all of the notices except one either pleaded guilty or were found guilty.
In all ten boroughs, there has been a lot of joint activity between police and local authorities to ensure compliance from local business. This has gone well, the majority of issues have come from social events such as house parties. Three students have been evicted from Salford university for COVID breaches.
There has been a lot of work on public transport to encourage mask wearing and there has been an increased police presence at local beauty spots.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact GMP via their website and livechat.
Boris Johnson made a statement to the Commons earlier this afternoon, confirming that schools would not reopen immediately after the February half term. The Government will give school two weeks notice before they are expected to reopen, which is currently hoped to be Monday 8 March, though many predict it will not be until Easter. The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to announce that there would be tougher travel restrictions. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer had said, "Our schools are closed and our borders are open. My biggest concern is that the Prime Minister still hasn’t learned the lessons of last year."
Mr Burnham endorsed the March 8 date but said he thought that the decision should be down to headteachers and local Departments for Public Health. The Mayor has previously said that he thinks the decision to reopen should be in the hands of headteachers.