Coronavirus has been branded ‘concerning’ again in Manchester amid soaring case numbers ‘across all ages’, according to public health chiefs. The rise comes as there has been a significant ‘dropoff’ of eligible people coming forward to get spring Covid-19 vaccination booster jabs.
The health bosses warned that people should work from home and children should stay at home from school if they have symptoms to prevent the spread. Greater Manchester doctors have also sounded alarms that another Covid wave could be hitting the region, saying ‘next Covid wave inbound? Staff, patients, colleagues, friends, family, neighbors all succumbing again’.
The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Greater Manchester has almost doubled in the space of a week. There were 251 Covid-related hospital admissions in the week ending June 12 – the latest figures available – compared to 133 the week before, totaling an increase of 89pc.
READ MORE : Warning that UK could be on the brink of new Covid wave with virus becoming ‘more dangerous’
Questions were raised at Manchester City Council’s health scrutiny committee this morning (June 22) about the latest rise in coronavirus cases. Green Party Woodhouse Councilor Astrid Johnson said: “There is a strong Covid rise at the moment, especially among young people.
“Because of waning immunity and longer presentation of the illness, I’m wondering what the response to that can and will be because we might have thought this issue had gone away or would reappear in the winter, but it definitely has not.”
“You’re exactly right. We’re quite concerned about our coverage rates of those entitled to a spring booster, particularly older people,” admitted Jenny Osborne, Strategic Lead for Population Health Programs and the Senior Responsible Officer for the Manchester Vaccination Program
“When you drill down into the data our best coverage for people aged 75-plus is for 80 to 84s at 75 per cent. But if we think about what it was like for first doses it was up to the 90 per cents.
“What we’re seeing is quite a dropoff in those eligible for fourth doses who have actually had it, so our overall coverage of that is about 65 per cent. But we need more of our older people, specifically, to be coming forward. We’re seeing that across the board but within particular communities, including the Bangladeshi community.”
But consultant in public health, Sarah Doran, was also quick to point out that although the councilor highlighted a Covid rise among young people, all age groups were being affected. She warned that people should work from home if they have symptoms.
“There’s actually an increase across all age groups of Covid cases,” Ms Doran told the committee. “Locally, we are starting to see outbreaks in our [work] setting again. Vaccination is part of the response but the other thing is working closely with those settings and making sure that we can support any outbreaks that we have.
“But there is a clear message for everybody that if you have any symptoms stay away from work. Work from home if you can. We are starting to see cases increase across [work] settings.”
There is now an ‘extra drive to encourage everybody to come forward and take up the spring booster given that we’ve had an uptick in our Covid rates’, added the public health chiefs.
“We do need to particularly push on our most vulnerable and our at-risk for the fourth dose, in terms of people who are immunosuppressed who are younger. We need to push it and we need to start pushing it now given what we’re seeing in terms of the increase in our Covid rates,” continued Ms Osborne.
One Greater Manchester GP has raised concerns of an incoming ‘Covid wave’ and the impact it could have on an already-pushed out NHS. Bolton GP Dr Helen Wall tweeted today: “Can anyone else feel it? Next Covid wave inbound? Staff, patients, colleagues, friends, family, neighbors all succumbing again.
“It’s palpable in #TeamGP right now. Let’s hope hospital admissions stay low and we can keep what little NHS capacity we have going.”
The uptick follows the emergence of Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, which were designated as variants of concern in the UK on May 20. The two mutations, first detected in Africa in January and February, have been cited by the ONS ( Office for National Statistics) as a likely cause for rising infection rates throughout the UK.
However, Greater Manchester public health chiefs have long highlighted the difficulties in judging coronavirus trends now free mass testing is no longer available.
As tests have to be paid for and are not mandatory, far fewer people will be likely to test and report their results, leaving a lack of accurate data. Greater Manchester health sources have indicated to the Manchester Evening News that the true figures of those with the virus could be far higher than the infection rates currently being reported.
Hospital admissions and coronavirus deaths can still be used to track coronavirus trends. But there is a time lag in between the infection itself and the hospitalization and/or death from the virus, meaning those figures do not give a contemporary picture of the current infection rate.
The Woodhouse councillor added that Manchester City Council could ‘lobby the government to provide free Covid tests again, because for a lot of people they’re not affordable or people can’t be bothered but that would be a step to actually make them more available and prevent people with asymptomatic Covid going to school or work’.
Fellow councilors agreed saying they would be acting on the possibility of lobbying the government.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.