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Covid could now be endemic in poorer northern towns

Parts of northern England could be in the midst of a coronavirus endemic, according to leaked Public Health England documents.

The analysis claims areas in north-west England where local lockdowns have been put in force – including Bolton, Manchester and Rochdale – ‘never really left the epidemic phase’.

It claims 90 per cent of Greater Manchester boroughs are ‘currently experiencing an epidemic phase’.

An epidemic refers to a disease infecting a large group of people whereas endemic is generally when a bug is constantly affecting a particular region.

Parts of northern England could be in the midst of a coronavirus endemic, according to leaked Public Health England documents. Pictured: Members of the public wear masks as they walk through Bolton town centre on Tuesday

Parts of northern England could be in the midst of a coronavirus endemic, according to leaked Public Health England documents. Pictured: Members of the public wear masks as they walk through Bolton town centre on Tuesday

The analysis claims areas in north-west England where local lockdowns have been put in force - including Bolton (people pictured in Bolton this week), Manchester and Rochdale - 'never really left the epidemic phase'

The analysis claims areas in north-west England where local lockdowns have been put in force – including Bolton (people pictured in Bolton this week), Manchester and Rochdale – ‘never really left the epidemic phase’

It claims 90 per cent of Greater Manchester boroughs are 'currently experiencing an epidemic phase'. Pictured: People in Bolton this week

 It claims 90 per cent of Greater Manchester boroughs are ‘currently experiencing an epidemic phase’. Pictured: People in Bolton this week

The paper – marked ‘official sensitive’ and seen by The Observer – looked at areas with a high amount of Covid-19 cases and examined links between large caseloads, economic deprivation, over-crowded housing and larger BAME communitites.

It suggests coronavirus is solidly in place in various areas meaning local lockdowns will hardly make any difference.

While the document – which uses data up until August – does focus on northwestern regions which have been put back into partial lockdowns following a spike in coronavirus cases – it implies the its findings could be used on a national level.

It reads: ‘The overall analysis suggests Bolton, Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale never really left the epidemic phase – and that nine of the 10 boroughs [of Greater Manchester] are currently experiencing an epidemic phase.’

The new measures, which were announced on Saturday evening, will come into effect immediately. Pictured: Bolton town centre at the start of September

The new measures, which were announced on Saturday evening, will come into effect immediately. Pictured: Bolton town centre at the start of September

People should only use public transport to travel to education, work or for essential appointments in Bolton. Pictured: a trace testing centre on Thursday

People should only use public transport to travel to education, work or for essential appointments in Bolton. Pictured: a trace testing centre on Thursday

It adds: ‘If we accept the premise that in some areas the infection is now endemic – how does this change our strategy? 

‘If these areas were not able to attain near-zero-Covid status during full lockdown, how realistic is it that we can expect current restriction escalations to work?’ 

Bolton was last night placed under tighter Covid-19 restrictions as the infection rate in the area becomes the highest in England with hundreds of thousands of people banned from mixing.

Bolton Council has asked for people in the town to avoid mixing with other households and to only use public transport for essential purposes.

It comes as the town’s infection rate recently increased to 99 cases per 100,000 people per week, the highest in England, the council said.

Locals slam Glasgow lockdown as confusing after different households can’t meet at home but CAN go out for dinner

Glasgow locals have slammed their local lockdown as confusing after rules state they can’t meet at each other’s homes but can go out for a meal together.

Under the guidelines – which also apply to West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire – residents are no longer allowed to meet up with other households indoors from midnight on Tuesday.

 But restaurants, pubs and bars have all stayed open causing confusion among locals.

Helen Smith, 45, told The Observer: ‘I’ve followed all the rules since the start of this thing but I can’t get my head round these latest ones

‘We were told to avoid pubs and restaurants and large groups of different households.

‘Now I can meet my own family in a pub or a gym with loads of other people but I can’t privately go round to their house.’

It came after the NHS regional board of Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported 66 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours – 43 per cent of Scotland’s total cases on Tuesday.

Officials say the spike appears to be mostly traced back to indoor gatherings, leading to the limited rules.

Just days earlier, Boris Johnson came under fire for ‘mess after mess’ in the coronavirus crisis after the government performed another embarrassing U-turn on lockdowns.

Bolton and Trafford were among a series of areas in the North West due to see restrictions eased on Wednesday.

But the move was abandoned at the 11th hour after a furious backlash from local politicians including Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who said infection levels were still far too high.

Councillors from both Bolton and Trafford warned of a spike in coronavirus cases – but a lockdown was not put in place until 12 hours after most locals understood that it was lifted. 

Local leaders have repeatedly felt exasperated by the national government throughout the pandemic as confusing 11th-hour rules have left constituents seeking clarity.

Many councils have used volunteers or staff to take on community-lead virus control, focused on communication, the paper reports.

Public health directors have slammed the current approach – where rules and guidance on local lockdowns comes from London – as making their job even more difficult.  

New lockdown rules were also enforced in Glasgow from midnight on Tuesday following a spike in coronavirus cases there.

Under the guidelines – which also apply to West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire – residents are no longer allowed to meet up with other households indoors.

Only essential hospital visits are permitted in the affected areas and anyone visiting a loved one in a care home must do so outside.

The rules will be reviewed after a week but they are set to remain in place for 14 days in total. 

It comes after the NHS regional board of Greater Glasgow and Clyde reported 66 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours – 43 per cent of Scotland’s total cases on Tuesday. 

Addressing the restrictions, Ms Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: ‘I know how difficult this will be – I am a Glasgow resident so these rules apply to me too – but they are essential to, I hope, nip this in bud and avoid tougher restrictions.’

The additional regulations in the three areas come after Aberdeen was thrust into lockdown again on August 5.

The city’s population of more than 200,000 were banned from travelling more than five miles from their homes and pubs, bars and restaurants were shut.

The lockdown rules were then relaxed 18 days later.

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