New data shows COVID-19 cases are still rising with spikes in Manchester, Tameside and Oldham.
A sustained steep rise in cases in Oldham and big spikes in Manchester and Tameside have meant a major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester.
Over the weekend, gold command meetings with senior figures from police, local authorities and other agencies took place due to concerns regarding the increasing numbers in the wake of stricter lockdown measures announced on Thursday night.
Public Health England has disclosed provisional figures – set to be revised in the next 24 hours – for the week to July 30th that suggests a continuing upwards trend.
Manchester’s council leader explained that the declaration of a major incident is not a cause for alarm, but designed to ensure all parts of the system can ramp up their response.
The figures appear to show that the pattern that was seen the seven days before the new local restrictions were announced has continued.
However, the new measures will take time to come into effect.
Oldham had 31 confirmed cases on July 28th, the highest in a single day since May 9th, and a number only recorded for seven previous days throughout the entire pandemic, including five in the peak month of April. Bury appears to have leveled off and Bolton figures appear steady.
In the week up to July 31st, Manchester had 178 confirmed cases, the highest since May 24th. On July 29th, Manchester had 36 cases.
During the height of the pandemic, Manchester’s highest week was 366 cases.
The targeted measures introduce in Rochdale over a fortnight ago have caused a continuing fall in figures.
Due to the overall picture, a major incident has been declared with further review of the data happening this morning. It means the region can access extra-national resources if necessary, the same as would be in the event of a terror attack or major flood.
According to reports, if the police need additional help with enforcement, the army could be drafted to support.
The declaration is expected to lead to greater police enforcement of the latest local measures, including in bars, however the new legislation promised by the government has yet to be formed.
Insiders have also explained the continued increases are not related to Eid and that mosques have been compliant with the new measure.
The rise, instead, is due to continued household transmission across all communities and due to younger people not observing social distancing measures.
Senior figures hope the move to a major incident will be enough to avoid a Leicester-style full-on lockdown of the economy, which is not currently on the horizon but it depends on how the picture plays out.
Gold command are meeting daily and in contact with the Cabinet Office and the Joint Biosecurity Centre on the issue.
There is also growing concerns regarding testing in care homes, as the governments promise to provide regular testing to staff and residents have been abandoned.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said people ‘should not be alarmed’ that a major incident has been declared.
He said: “This is standard practice for complex situations which require a multi-agency response.”
“Although the council and partner organisations have been working closely to tackle the impacts of the pandemic since early this year, declaring a major incident means we can ramp this up further.
“It allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources.
“Following last week’s Government announcement of preventative public health measures across Greater Manchester to address rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, the public would expect us to give this situation our concerted collective attention. That, with a view to enabling these restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, is exactly what we are doing.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, chair of the Local Resilience Forum, said meetings were held to discuss the new regulations.
He added: “Recognising that there are multiple localities across Greater Manchester seeing rises in infection rates, the group reviewed learning from other recent areas, including Leicester, and its own learning from across the partnership and have taken the decision to declare this a major incident in order to respond as effectively as possible.
“This will enable us to maximise the capability of agencies across Greater Manchester, including additional resources if required, to instigate a prompt and positive change in direction.
“It is part of our desire to protect the population of Greater Manchester and provide them with the highest levels of assurance that agencies are doing all they can to reduce infection rates and bring Greater Manchester back to as near a state of normality as current times allow.’’
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “The public should be reassured that the guidelines announced by Government on Thursday remain unchanged.
“This move by Greater Manchester’s Strategic Coordination Group is simply to enable our public agencies to access any additional resources they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
They explained that it is ‘absolutely appropriate’ to maximise resources to reverse the spike.
Adding: “The more we stick to the new guidelines and drive the R rate down, the quicker they will be removed. Please do not visit someone else’s home or garden unless you have formed a support bubble.
“Do not meet outdoors in groups of more than six. Please wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible. Let’s not act selfishly and instead keep the health of our loved ones and neighbours in mind at all times.’’
The Body Shop to shut half its UK shops after falling into administration
Sad news for retail
The Body Shop is to shut half its stores across the UK resulting in hundreds of job losses.
It comes after the British cosmetics retailer announced it had fallen into administration last week, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.
Closures began yesterday (February 20th) with seven stores shutting: Ashford Town Centre, Kent, Bristol Queens Road, Bristol, Canary Wharf, London, Cheapside, London, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Oxford Street-Bond Street, London and Surrey Quays, London.
More store closures are set to follow though no timeframe or dates have been announced as of yet.
Administrators FRP said the retailer’s current portfolio is ‘no longer viable’ after ‘years of unprofitability’ and that the cuts would ‘help re-energise’ the brand.
The Body Shop has around 198 shops in the UK and employs around 2,200 people, including 750 staff at its head office.
Around 270 head office jobs are being cut, reducing roles by 40% and leaving around 400 full-time employees. It will restructure roles at its head office to align with its more financially viable strategy going forward.
The Body Shop ambassador programme, where individuals sell the brand’s products for a commission, is also being closed, FRP said.
There will be a ‘renewed focus’ on products, online sales channels and wholesale as part of its restructuring.
FRP said: “A reduced store footprint, will coincide with a renewed focus on the brand’s products, online sales channels and wholesale strategies, bringing the brand in line with industry peers and supporting a return to financial stability.”
The Body Shop was founded by the pioneering British businesswoman and activist Dame Anita Roddick and her husband in 1976.
It established itself as a ground breaking ethical, sustainable brand, rejecting animal testing on cosmetics and promoting environmentally-friendly products and ethical sourcing practices.
The trailblazing brand has since faced tough competition from other ethical brands including Lush, which was co-founded by Mark Constantine – a former supplier to The Body Shop.
In 2006 the couple sold The Body Shop to French beauty giant L’Oreal.
The Brazilian beauty giant Natura acquired the brand from L’Oreal in 2017, and Aurelius bought The Body Shop for £207m at the end of last year.
Aggressive sales and discounting tactics are believed to have played a role in putting customers off being willing to pay full retail price for its products.
Hunt is on for mystery National Lottery winner in Greater Manchester
Could it be you?
The National Lottery is on the hunt for the missing winner of its Set For Life draw in Greater Manchester.
Lottery players in the city-region are being urged to check their tickets and claim their 10k-a-month prize for a whole year.
The search is now on to find the owner of the ticket – which was bought in Greater Manchester – who matched the five main numbers in the National Lottery Set For Life draw on February 5th.
The winning numbers on that date were: 3, 4, 8, 10, 28 and the Life Ball was 1.
But the lucky ticket-holder needs to act fast as they only have until August 3rd of this year to claim their prize. The missing winner, or winners if played as part of a syndicate, could be celebrating in style or jetting off on a luxury vacation now.
Andy Carter, Senior Winners Advisor at The National Lottery said: “If you bought a Set For Life ticket in Manchester for the draw on February 5th, it’s time to look everywhere – in the pockets of clothes you might have been wearing at the time, bags, in the car, wallets and purses and in that sideboard or drawer where we all tend to put bits and pieces – and check your tickets.
“Do you live or work in Manchester, do you have family and friends there who you were visiting or were you just passing through?
“We’re desperate to find this mystery ticket-holder and pay out their life-changing prize – imagine the possibilities for them for the next year.
“We have the champagne on ice and our fingers crossed that the lucky winner comes forward to claim their win.”
To help jog the memories of National Lottery players, here’s was happening in Manchester at the time the ticket was purchased: The day before the draw, Manchester United recorded a 3-0 home win against West Ham United while on February 5th, Manchester City travelled to Brentford and returned with all three points after a 3-1 win.
Players can buy and check their tickets online by downloading the National Lottery app or by visiting national-lottery.co.uk.
Anyone not in possession of their ticket, for whatever reason, but who believes they have a genuine claim to the prize can still write to Allwyn, as long as it is within 30 days of the draw.
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Constance Marten told to say baby died of cot death as tragic details revealed in court
The couple deny all charges
Constance Marten’s partner, Mark Gordon, told her to say the baby was a victim of cot death, the Old Bailey has heard.
On Monday (February 19th) jurors were played more of a police interview with Ms Marten, recorded on March 1st last year, just hours after her baby’s body was found in a shed in Brighton.
Marten, 36, and Gordon, 49, went on the run with their newborn daughter Victoria after their car caught flames and was abandoned by the motorway in Bolton in January 2023.
Fire crews recovering the vehicle discovered evidence of a birth in the back seat of the car.
As reported by the BBC, the court heard how the couple slept in a tent as they evaded authorities, in a bid to keep the baby after Marten’s four other children had been taken into care.
The jury heard Marten tell officers in the interview that she had considered handing herself in to police a couple of weeks after Victoria had died.
The couple are accused of her manslaughter by gross negligence – both deny the charge.
Marten told Gordon to say he was not present when their baby died because she wanted to protect him, ‘because obviously he’s my husband,’ she said.
She also told detectives that he advised her to say Victoria was a victim of cot death. She said: “Mark advised me to say that it was cot death… and that I wasn’t holding her.
“He advised me to say that I lay her down and then when we woke up she was on her front and she’d passed away.”
She went on to explain that what happened was not a cot death and that Mr Gordon might try to tell them it was ‘in order to protect’ her and her ‘interests’.
In the interview, Marten explained how Victoria died.
Warning: some readers may find the following information distressing.
She said she was feeling ‘extremely tired’ and had fallen asleep hugging Victoria, who was in her jacket. But she said the baby ‘wasn’t moving when I woke up’.
Marten wept as she told police how she came to realise their baby was not breathing. She said they had both tried to resuscitate Victoria but that there was no response to their attempts to revive her.
She said: “I tried to breathe in her mouth and pump her chest. So I wrapped her in a scarf and cradled her for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to do.”
Asked by a detective whether they called for help, Marten replied: “No because she was definitely not alive. I mean she wasn’t alive, so who’s going to help?”
In another police interview conducted on March 2nd, 2023, Marten said that they wrapped Victoria’s body in a black scarf and put her inside a supermarket bag. She explained: “It’s not particularly graceful but that’s all we had.”
She also said her and Gordon would take Victoria’s body out with them, saying: “We always carried Victoria with us… just because I didn’t want to leave her in a tent… a bit strange.”
She told detectives the bag became too heavy to carry and so they sometimes left it inside the tent they were sleeping in.
Marten said she and Gordon were both ‘distraught’ when Victoria died.
Asked how she was feeling after the birth of their daughter, she said: “I was feeling fine. I was elated to be with her actually. To be with one of my children. With Mark, together and parenting.
“It was a really nice Christmas period. I was very happy actually. Until all the media attention – that’s my experience.”
The court heard how the couple married in Peru seven years before Victoria’s death but that the marriage was ‘not recognised over here’.
As well as manslaughter, Marten and Gordon, of no fixed address, are also accused of four other offences: cruelty to their baby; concealment of the baby’s birth; causing or allowing her death; and perverting the course of justice by concealing the body. They deny all charges.
The trial, taking place at the Old Bailey, continues.