Government sends extra Covid help to Lancashire

The government is sending in extra help, including support from the military, to increase uptake of Covid-19 testing and vaccinations as the Delta variant of the virus continues to spread.

Everybody in Lancashire, including children, are now being strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, whether they are showing symptoms or not.

The move is in response to statistics which show the Delta variant of the coronavirus, previously known as the Indian variant, is spreading fastest in Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The government's figures show that 17 of the top 20 areas with the highest infection rates in England in the week leading up to 3 June were in Greater Manchester or Lancashire.

In Blackburn with Darwen, the current rate is 546.4 cases per 100,000 people, against a national average of 45.8.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire County Council, said: "Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to rise at a worrying pace in parts of Lancashire. While the East of the county has seen the highest volume of infection, we are seeing cases rise rapidly in other parts, including Central Lancashire.

Matt Hancock, the government's health secretary, has said that he intends to use Bolton as an example. When the town urged residents to get tested and get the vaccine, cases fell by a quarter.

He said: "We know that this approach can work, we've seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.

"This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and in Lancashire, and of course it's vital that people in these areas - as everywhere else - come forward and get the jab as soon as they're eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together."

Meanwhile, there are concerns about fan gatherings as the Euro 2020 football tournament kicks off this weekend. An event held at Preston's Flag Market has sold all 500 tickets. 

Dr Karunanithi told the BBC: "These are the type of things that really give me concern - large events which involve close contact, even though it's outdoors.

"We are encouraging everybody to take a test before they come."

Denise Park, chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum's Recovery Coordination Group, said: "We are getting enhanced support from government to ramp up testing and offering the vaccine in more convenient locations in coronavirus hotspots.

"Please take advantage of this extra support so we can turn the tide against this latest wave of infections. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but one thing Covid has taught us is that we can never count it out – and we must all work together as we have done throughout the pandemic to keep our communities safe."

Anyone can book a free test online or by calling 119.

  • For further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.