BOLTON’S Covid case rates are now at their highest level in six months – as the Indian variant hits the North.
The variant-hit hotspot has seen infections soar over the past month, before locals were slapped with a “stealth lockdown” last week.
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Seven-day average cases show infections appearing to start to fall fall in mid-May after Bolton suffered its worst case rates in six months
A total of 1,300 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the seven days to May 21 – the equivalent of 452.1 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 300.8 the previous week and is the highest since November 12.
Bolton continues to have the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the UK, Public Health England data shows.
Blackburn with Darwen has the second highest rate, up week-on-week from 130.9 to 301.9, with 452 new cases.
And Bedford has the third highest, up week-on-week from 128.1 to 193.9, with 336 new cases.
It comes as:
Department of Health data suggests the peak from the Indian variant may be behind us, with a graph showing a steady drop up to May 24, following a high seven-day average of 185.4 on May 17.
Running up to that, infections had risen every day since mid-April.
These figures only go up to May 17 and therefore don’t show any confirmed seven-day averages since.
But after a slight rise on May 18 on the graph the figures then begin to fall, with 106 new daily cases reported yesterday – a drop from 170 on May 16.
After a peak cases tend to dip or level out, before a lag leads to hospitalisations following suit.
At the moment, patients in hospital in the town are slightly increasing, due to the rise in cases in the last few weeks.
However this could mean hospitalisations will start to drop in the next few weeks.
The chief operating officer of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust Andy Ennis said there were 41 Covid inpatients, including eight critical at the trust.
And Monday was one of the A&E’s busiest ever days as people came in worried about symptoms.
It comes as locals in eight hotspots where the variant has become the dominant virus have been told to only meet outside and stay two metres apart.
Ministers are warning people not to enter or leave areas where the mutation is spreading fastest “unless it is essential” in the local lockdowns.
Cases have sharply risen in the town since April as the variant spread
The change in the rules effectively partially scraps the latest round of unlocking for people in the hotspots.
And it means anyone who might have planned to visit friends, family or even just have a staycation in these areas may have to have a sudden rethink.
Blackburn MP Kate Hollern accused the Government of rolling out “lockdown lite through the backdoor.”
She tweeted: “The guidance is likely to have major implications on businesses, schools and the hospitality sector and I’m furious that the Government hasn’t bothered to consult the local authorities involved.”
Tory Jake Berry, whose Rossendale and Darwen constituency is affected by the advice, complained about not being told beforehand.
And he slapped down No10 claims it did not amount to a local lockdown: “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, more often than not it is a duck.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman stressed that the new guidance affecting eight Indian variant hotspot areas was “not statutory”.
Thousands more tests have taken place in the town over the past few months
It applies to Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burley, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.
But local leaders and MPs weren’t even told about the changes, which were dumped on the Government website last Friday evening.
There was no public announcement, and they didn’t find out until last night when journalists started to flag the new guidance.
But in good news, Covid deaths are the lowest they have been since before the first lockdown thanks to the vaccination blitz.
There have been only 40 deaths reported in the past seven days, according to the Government dashboard.
The seven-day average is six deaths – the lowest since the second week of March 2020, before the first lockdown was imposed.
Government data reports deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
The Office for National Statistics, which keeps fatality records by death certificates, revealed more positive data today.
The agency said 108 people in England and Wales died of Covid in the week to May 7 – the latest date for analysis of deaths by occurence.
This is down 99 per cent from the peak of 8,984 deaths in the week to January 22.
Bolton has seen a rise in Indian variant cases since last monthCredit: Mercury