Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen become Covid-19 hotspots in the north west: Why have cases increased?

Covid-19 case rates in most areas of the UK have returned to levels last seen around eight months ago, with the number of new cases of coronavirus similar to those recorded in late August and early September.

By Iain Lynn
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 3:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 3:28 pm

Some 370 of 380 local areas – 97% – are currently recording rates below 50 cases per 100,000 people, with nearly one in four having rates that have dropped into single figures, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

But a small handful of areas are currently experiencing a jump in cases, which have pushed rates back to levels last seen earlier this year.

While rates in these areas have yet to reach the sort of levels recorded at the peak of the second wave, the latest figures suggest localised outbreaks of Covid-19 are continuing to occur, driven by a range of factors.

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A general view of homes on July 24, 2020 in Blackburn

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– Bolton: 152.0 cases per 100,000

Bolton in Greater Manchester has the second highest rate in the UK, with 437 new cases of coronavirus recorded in the seven days to May 7.

The rate has jumped from 74.4 to 152.0 in a week – the highest since the seven days to February 28.

Covid case rate increase in Bolton

Surge testing has been under way in parts of Bolton since May 7, after Public Health England (PHE) confirmed the town is one of the main locations for cases of the India variant of Covid-19, which last week was reclassified as a variant of concern.

Cases of the India variant in England had increased from 202 to 520 as of May 7, PHE said, with almost half related to travel or contact with a traveller.

The majority of the cases are concentrated in two areas: north-west England, predominantly Bolton, and London.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has submitted a request to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that all over-16s in Bolton, along with the rest of the Greater Manchester area, are able to receive a Covid-19 vaccination “to mitigate the risks of spread in those communities where we are seeing more transmission”.

Blackburn with Darwen: 90.2 cases per 100,000

This is the third highest rate in England, with 135 cases recorded in the seven days to May 7.

The current rate of 90.2 is up from 52.1, to levels last seen at the end of March.

Blackburn with Darwen borders Bolton to the north, so is likely to have been affected by the jump in cases experienced by its neighbour.

Surge testing has yet to be rolled out within the local authority, however, and the presence of the India variant has still to be confirmed.

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