Several areas in the North West are currently among the worst affected by coronavirus, new data has revealed.
According to Public Health England and the Department for Health, they are ‘working collaboratively’ to focus on areas where coronavirus cases are rising, Sky News reports.
New figures from PHE show Leicester (140.2 cases per 100,000 people), Bradford (69.44), Barnsley (54.65) and Rochdale (53.64) are the areas worst affected by coronavirus.
These four areas have at least 45 cases per 100,000 people in the week to June 21st – although none of the other three have levels anywhere near as high as Leicester.
The next category (30-44.9 cases per 100,000) includes six areas: Bedford (41.95), Oldham (38.62), Rotherham (33.63), Tameside (33.3), Blackburn with Darwen (32.9), and Kirklees (30.31).
Further down the list, Manchester ranks 15th worst with 21.55 cases per per 100,000 people.
Despite reports yesterday that Wigan was on a list of areas that could potentially be put into local lockdown, these new figures show that it’s actually only 74th on the list with a rate of just 5.52.
An updated list ending June 28th is expected to be published tomorrow.
The British Medical Association has called for the government to provide accurate data on local coronavirus spikes to ensure those areas can react quickly to save lives and protect the NHS.
There are two sets of figures released, Pillar 1 includes the number of patients and staff testing as positive in hospital and PHE labs, Pillar 2 includes positive cases identified in testing centres.
Leicester City Council has just received accesses to the data in Pillar 2.
A spokesperson said: “PHE publishes daily cases of COVID-19 broken down by local authority which includes people tested as part of pillar 1.
“This is used as one of a number of indicators to help us and partner organisations to identify trends in local areas and to take action accordingly.
“To use these data in isolation to predict which areas will see significant increases in cases is not appropriate as they do not provide a complete picture of what is happening locally.”
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community well-being board, told Sky News: “More data is starting to be shared with councils’ directors of public health, which is good news. It is clear that more precise, granular information is needed in order to help councils track down and isolate any specific outbreaks or clusters.
“This data needs to be provided promptly and shared quickly, with both district councils and upper tier local authorities, to ensure the swiftest and most effective response.
“Proportionate responses, which have the consent of the community, are the best way in dealing with local outbreaks and we expect this to happen in the vast majority of cases. Councils want to work with the public and local businesses on this and the use of powers should only ever be needed as a last resort, to manage the outbreak and prevent the spread of infection.”
Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said figures from PHE show Bradford ‘with a high number of infections along with a number of other northern authorities, although we are some way behind Leicester’.
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “These claims of a local surge and a lockdown are wholly inaccurate and people should not panic or feel unduly alarmed.”
Dr Mark Ansell, Havering Council’s director of public health, said: “Public Health England London have reviewed cases in London and the overall trend remains downwards. We are nowhere near the levels where a lockdown would even be considered.”
Snow ‘likely’ to hit the North West as ’11-day flurry of snowfall’ forecast in UK from Thursday
Winter is well and truly here.
Temperatures are expected to continue to drop across the UK with freezing fog, gales of up to 50mph and some snow.
Although the Scottish Highlands are expected to see the worst of the predicted 11-day flurry of snowfall from Thursday, there is a possibility snow could fall ‘almost anywhere’ on the weekend, according to the Met Office.
From Thursday, BBC meteorologist Chris Fawkes, explains there will be murky weather over much of Britain. He said: “We start off with murky weather in the week ahead, but then outbreaks of rain will develop – winds strengthen as the week goes by, it will then turn colder, significantly, through Thursday and Friday.”
A Met Office spokesperson added: “We could see some snow falling in showers almost anywhere across the UK on Friday and next weekend.”
The Met Office forecast for the North West from this Friday, December 4th, until Sunday December 13th predicts ‘unsettled weather’, adding that ‘snow is likely’.
According to them: “The period will start unsettled across all parts of the UK, with areas of heavy rain and showers, locally of soft hail, sleet and snow likely, and possibly more widespread snow over some hills and mountains.
“Often windy, especially around coasts, but in quieter interludes overnight there will remain the potential for some patchy frost, and isolated mist and freezing fog.”
Heavy rain is set to hit the North West this lunchtime before the weather front moves in a southernly direction.
And be prepared to be de-icing your car again this week as the weather is set to get colder, potentially dropping to zero.
Northern England and Scotland are due 18 to 24 days of snow or ice this winter. Chills are more likely than past winters, according to the Met Office, who also predict snow flurries.
Leading bookmaker, Coral, said this could be the coldest December in the UK.
Toy store The Entertainer is closing for three days over Christmas to give staff a much-needed break
Popular toy chain The Entertainer is set to give its staff a three-day break over the festive period.
This year, the retailer will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and December 27th.
There are 171 The Entertainer shops across the UK and you will still be able to get last-minute prezzies on Christmas Eve between 8am and 5pm.
The toy store said it wants to give staff the time off to allow for quality time with families.
With Christmas Eve falling on Thursday this year, it means The Entertainer stores will not reopen again until December 28th, the following Monday.
The three day weekend will give staff ‘quality time’ with their families, and they will also be getting the additional day off as paid leave.
The Entertainer founder and executive chairman Gary Grant said: “Restrictions placed upon people over the last nine months have been incredibly testing.
“With the easing of restrictions for Christmas, we want to give our staff more opportunity to rest together with their families and loved ones for some quality time.”
The Entertainer joins Wickes, Home Bargains, Aldi, M&S and Pets at Home, who have all already confirmed they will remain shut on Boxing Day.
Andy Burnham calls on Greater Manchester MPs to unite and demand more support for businesses in the region
Mayor Andy Burnham has written an open letter to Greater Manchester’s MPs, urging them to demand a fair financial support package for business effected by the strictest tier system.
The letter, dated November 28th, begins with Burnham explaining he is seeking help in ‘raising issues of concern to us in next week’s debate’ in the House of Commons.
He goes on to explain that Greater Manchester being put into the strictest tier in the newly revised tier system – therefore putting Greater Manchester into its fourth month of continuous restrictions – was ‘disappointing, but it was perhaps not surprising’.
The infection rate in Greater Manchester remains above the average in England, putting significant pressure on hospitals across the region. However, it is falling at a rate faster than anywhere else in the UK, dropping by more than 45% over the last two weeks, compared to 39% across the North West and 13% across the rest of England.
Burnham goes on to explain that rates for over 65s are continuing to fall which points towards Tier 2 for all of Greater Manchester.
Given this, he calls for three critical issues to be raised that will benefit residents and businesses.
Firstly, a challenge on the December review. Given the figures, there’s a strong chance Greater Manchester will be in a similar position to those areas in Tier 2. However, the government has indicated major changes at the first review in a fortnight will not take place.
Secondly, he calls for a more balanced approach to the structure of Tier 3. Currently, Burnham explains the system disproportionately hits the hospitality sector, the industry that has spent ‘vast amounts of money’ putting Covid-secure measures in place. He is calling for the government to allow for a more ‘nuanced and flexible strategy’ to allow parts of the economy to reopen.
And finally, he is calling for financial support. He explains that in practice, those areas going into tier 3 will receive no more funding than those in tier 1 or 2.
To finish, Burnham said: “I hope very much that we will able to form a united, cross-party front on these three important issues for Greater Manchester.
“If you would like to discuss this matter with me – or need any further information on these matters – please do not hesitate to contact me.
“Thank you for all you have been doing to help Greater Manchester through these difficult times and in advance for any help you are able to provide in next week’s crucial debate.”
You can read the letter in full here.