Rise in infections in secondary schoolchildren helps drive up Covid infection rate in Trafford

Manchester leaders held a press conference to discuss the latest Covid data for the city-region on Tuesday.

Cases of coronavirus in Trafford have seen a “very significant increase” over the last seven days, city council leader Sir Richard Leese said today.

The area now has an infection rate of 832.6 cases per 100,000 people, in data collected to the week ending 7 October. That is the highest in England.

Sir Richard, who chairs the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, highlighted a rise among secondary school pupils aged between 11 and 15 during a media conference held with mayor Andy Burnham and Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.

What’s being done about it?

Sir Richard said work was going on continually around vaccine messaging and other actions to tackle the rise in Trafford among young people, adding the ‘majority’ of youngsters were asymptomatic. He added: “With the Trafford position, officials in public health are working closely with schools. This is principally a schools issue in Trafford to make sure people are as safe as possible.

“They are looking at measures like advising to wear face coverings when moving around school. Prents when dropping off and picking up are being asked to wear face coverings.

“Most transmissions are in home settings; for pupils who have someone in their homes that have tested positive (they’re advised) to do daily lateral flow tests before going to schools.”

Sir Richard added: “It is worth reminding ourselves we have had figures of over 1,000 (cases per 100,000 people) in a period of time, even in the last couple of months.”

Manchester World reported last week that seven out of 10 Greater Manchester boroughs are below the national average for vaccinating those aged 12-17, in the latest data available.

When asked whether more needs to be done around uptake, mayor Mr Burnham said on Tuesday they haven’t yet been presented with high quality data when it comes to vaccinating young people, but they have had some anecdotal feedback.

He said: “Because of the high case rate among that age group, there is a complication with vaccination because people can’t be vaccinated within one month of having had a positive diagnosis of Covid.

“It is really important that when people can take the vaccine that they do. We will be continuing to get the message out.”

What else was discussed today?

Turning to care homes, Sir Richard said that the position with Covid there was ‘stable’, with very low mortality rates indicating vaccinations were working.

On the subject of health and primary care, it was also revealed in the conference that 55% of all GP consultations are now face-to-face in Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham said it wasn’t yet deemed safe to move to a full face-to-face service due to current infection rates - and that phone appointments could also help deal with demand more quickly. He also asked for the public to show understanding, amid some criticisms of a lack of in-person appointments since the pandemic.