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Covid infection rates have more than doubled in three Greater Manchester boroughs

Grim new figures have shown that infection rates are on the rise once again

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@mangopearuk / Unsplash & Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr

As the grand reopening on June 21st looms, Covid-19 cases have sadly been climbing across Greater Manchester.

The rapid increase in case numbers across many boroughs is thought to be being driven by the Indian or Delta variant of the virus – and those surges are continuing the latest infection rate, new data from Public Health England shows.

Despite increases slowing marginally over twenty-four hours, cases have more than doubled week-on-week in Manchester, Stockport and Trafford, and almost doubled in Tameside and Salford.

@aswinmahesh7 / Unsplash

Subsequently, eight of the top twenty areas with the highest rates are now in Greater Manchester.

Bolton, which has seen enhanced measures for several weeks now, is the only borough where cases are falling but it still has the highest rate in the region and the second highest in England.

Second to Bolton, and one of three boroughs with infection rates of over 200, is Salford, where there were 600 positive tests in the week ending June 4th, 299 more than in the previous week.

In the city of Manchester, the latest infection rate is 224.1 and the number of cases has gone up by 101pc.

Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr

A total of 1,239 people tested positive for Covid in Manchester over the seven days, 623 more than the week before.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced yesterday that the region had been designated an ‘enhanced response area’ and extra support would be provided including surge vaccinations and increased testing.

The support includes military support with testing and supervised in-school testing. Local public health bosses will also be able to reintroduce face masks in communal areas.

Whilst residents are being urged to take extra precautions and ‘minimise’ travel in and out of the area, leaders say it is not a local lockdown or travel ban.

As well as staying local, this new advice also says that wherever possible, people should meet outside and keep two metres apart from anyone they don’t live with.

However, Hancock didn’t actually mention the changes to advice when he spoke to the Commons yesterday. 

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Some Covid restrictions to stay in place in Manchester, council says

All Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted today

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Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

As the majority of Plan B Covid restrictions are lifted, Manchester’s public health director has said some will be staying in place across the city.

In what has been described as a ‘pragmatic approach’, Manchester City Council is asking people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces and on public transport.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing masks in corridors until the February half term.

David Regan, Manchester’s public health director, said keeping some measures in place should ‘limit the onward transmission’ of Covid.

@circlz / Unsplash

He said there had been a ‘good dialogue’ with the city’s universities and that schools had been ‘really receptive’ to the advice. 

Regan explained: “If our primary school children are affected and it goes back into the household, that affects our health and social care workforce.

Deputy council leader Joanna Midgley supported Regan’s stance on the matter, saying the pandemic ‘was not over’ and said there were vulnerable people who ‘needed to be looked after’.

She said: “As the restrictions end, as a city we want to try and encourage people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces on public transport and to get that message across about looking out for each other, caring about each other.”

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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GMP confiscates and burns 173kg of cannabis following raid on weed farm

The cannabis farm contained drugs with an estimated value of £750k

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GMP Manchester North / Facebook

Greater Manchester Police officers have burned huge bags of cannabis after plants growing the Class B drug were discovered at a weed farm in Manchester.

Officers raided the property in Cheetham Hill earlier this week on January 24th, where they discovered a cannabis farm containing drugs worth an estimated £750k. 

Yesterday, 173kg of the plants – the equivalent of five German Shepherds, according to the force – were bagged up and burned through an incinerator.

GMP shared images of the farm onto the GMP Manchester North Facebook page, writing: “Tonight we have executed a warrant in #Cheetham and found a large cannabis farm with an estimated £750k worth of drugs.

“If anyone has any information please pass it to us so we can continue taking drugs from the streets.”

The force then shared an update yesterday regarding the burning of the plants, showing photos of police vans overflowing with bags of cannabis plants alongside the caption: “We have now dismantled the cannabis farm in #Cheetham and 173kg of cannabis has been burnt at the incinerator!

“That’s the equivalent of 5 German Shepherds! Our van was filled!”

This comes just weeks after North West Motorway Police seized £300k worth of laundered money during a routine stop check.

During the search, Regional Commercial Vehicle Unit and MO24 officers found a bag containing the cash in the boot, something that the driver ‘couldn’t account for’. 

The cash was subsequently seized and the driver was arrested. 

Reports involving drugs or other anti-social behaviour can be made to police online or by calling 101.

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Met Police launches criminal investigation into Number 10 parties

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Sky News

The Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation into the Number 10 parties during the 2020 lockdown, it has been announced today.

The force will be investigating ‘a number’ of incidences over the last two years in Downing Street and Whitehall, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said in a press conference today.

She says the criteria for investigating past breaches of Covid rules has been met thanks to information provided by the Cabinet Office along with the force’s own officers.

Number 10 / Flickr

The criteria is:

  • Evidence that people knew or ought to have known what they were doing was an offense.
  • Not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law
  • Little ambiguity around absence of any reasonable defence

Commissioner Dick added that Downing Street police may also be looked at as part of the force’s investigation, saying: “There are a number of officers posted in the surrounds of Downing Street… They have a very clear role and that is to protect security.

“In relation to anything they may have seen or heard or done or not done, again, I’m afraid I am not prepared to comment but I can assure you that we are carrying out our investigations and if that’s a relevant matter we will find out about that.”

She then insisted that the Met ‘police without fear or favour’ when challenged about why Scotland Yard hasn’t yet investigated the numerous reports of Number 10 parties.

Commissioner Dick added: “I absolutely understand there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media over the last several weeks.

“Many many people including many Londoners, and indeed my colleagues have made huge sacrifices and they’ve suffered considerable loss during the pandemic.”

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