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.’’
Greater Manchester Nightingale Hospital open again due to high levels of coronavirus
The Nightingale Hospital for the North West will open later this week and house non-Covid patients.
The temporary facility to treat patients with Covid-19 opened originally in April but has been closed in summer.
However, later this week it is set to reopen for non-Covid patients.
It is set to reopen as figures show the number of coronavirus patients being treated in the North West is now approaching the level it was in the first surge of the virus.
A spokesperson said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will accept patients from today to provide care for those who do not have Covid-19, but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social care assessments.”
As of October 26th, North West hospitals had 2,407 patients with coronavirus, the highest number of cases since April 23rd.
Dr Jane Eddleston, medical director of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Nightingale will not be used as a critical care facility and neither was it in the first phase. It will be used as a facility for patients to have additional rehabilitation.”
Sacha Lord says 10pm curfew will be reviewed next month
Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, has said the government will review the 10pm curfew in November.
All hospitality venues must shut their doors at 10pm under current laws, however, Sacha Lord and other industry members have been campaigning the curfew.
Since September 24th, when the curfew was put in place, the #CancelTheCurfew movement has been backed by a number of industry professionals.
The Parklife founder, Lord, filed a pre-action letter last night which claimed there was no scientific justification of the Tier 3 regulations and the limits on pubs and bars operating hours.
Lord has tweeted that the government ‘are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew’ in November.
He wrote: “In November, the Government are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew.
“It doesn’t work for the public or operators.
“Overloaded transport, crowded takeaways, supermarkets etc.
“It’s doing far more harm than good. Operators are running safe and secure COVID19 venues.
“Cancel the Curfew”
Lord confirmed they had a formal response from the government regarding the judicial review where he said ‘we consider it insufficient’.
He added “I cannot go into detail, but I can say that we have considered it and it is insufficient. I have instructed my lawyers to commence legal proceedings.”
Lord is now backing the OneGM campaign, which sees different sectors of the industry coming together to show support for businesses and people in Greater Manchester.
It is unclear yet when Greater Manchester will be removed from Tier 3 restrictions.
Dr Hilary backs calls for tier 3 restrictions across all of England by Christmas
It’s not looking good.
Dr Hilary has responded on GMB this morning to reports that the whole of England should be in tier 3 by Christmas.
It comes following some reports that all of England could be placed under the strictest coronavirus restrictions by mid-December.
The UK deaths hit their highest level in five months on Tuesday, when 367 new fatalities linked to coronavirus and nearly 23,000 more cases were recorded.
The Sun explained that SAGE member, Professor Sir Mark Walport said it is ‘not unrealistic’ to think that 25,000 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.
With total Covid related deaths reaching 61,000 across the nation, there are predictions that figures will be higher than the Spring peak come December.
Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Body (Sage) are reportedly warning that virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas in the North already.
A government source also told The Sun ‘the latest Sage numbers are utterly bleak.’
According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Downing Street is working on the assumption that the second wave of COVID-19 will be more deadly than the first.’
From next week parts of Nottinghamshire and Warrington will be placed into Tier Three.
This means that more than eight million people in England, predominantly in the North, will be under the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions by the end of the week.
The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, told Sky News: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.
“But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will become Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.
“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”
Dr Hilary Jones spoke on Good Morning Britain this morning explaining that a vaccine ‘won’t stop a rise in infections’.
Jones said: “Just look at the figures, the hospital admissions are increasing, doubling every two weeks. In a month from now, we’ll be worse than we were in the first wave.”
He said: “We can’t rely on a vaccine, we hope it will save people from dying but it won’t stop infections, not the early vaccine anyway.”
Adding that: “I think we still need to rely on the basic principles which is hands, face, space and if we all do that and we’re realistic and don’t say Christmas is an exception.
“If we make Christmas an exception, then every celebration will be an exception. A birthday, a Friday night, a promotion…”