Greater Manchester is at a crucial moment in its management of Covid-19 as lockdown continues to be eased and we learn to live with the new normality.
The local lockdown in Leicester has brought home how precarious easing the restrictions can be. Today, Leaders in Greater Manchester have published figures to help inform the public on what the local situation is to help them make an informed decision about how they go about their day-to-day lives and minimise the spread of the infection.
When Greater Manchester is compared to Leicester, in terms of the measures the Government has used to make lockdown decisions, Leaders are reassured that the city-region is not at risk at this point in time.
population approx. 350,000
|Number of positive cases per 100,000 over the last seven days||135 (not falling)||13.3 (and falling)|
|Hospital admissions with diagnosis of Covid-19 per 100,000 per day||2.3||0.3|
Figures as of June 30 2020
|Council||Number of positive cases per 100,000|
Figures as of June 30 2020
The figures show that thanks to most people sticking to the public health advice, more testing and people who are asked to self-isolate are doing so, and the hard work of the ten Councils and NHS to contain any outbreaks, the Greater Manchester figures continue to decline. However, some of our ten districts have higher infection numbers and rates than others, and compared to the North West and national they are still higher than they should be.
Councils and the NHS continue to monitor the real-time data updates extremely closely, and will continue to do so, particularly as we get to July 4 and beyond. Greater Manchester has access to more data than it’s have ever had, including the ‘pillar 2’ testing data, so it can increasingly see where local infections are and make sure they’re kept under control. Leaders are committed to publishing this data on a regular basis to help people make informed decisions about their local area.
An expert group has been established in Greater Manchester, including academics, clinicians and epidemiologists to help focus testing where it is most needed and particularly those who are at greatest risk from contracting Covid-19 for health reasons or the setting in which they live or work – care homes, schools, or certain factory settings. They will be making recommendations based on the latest evidence from Greater Manchester, national and international studies and experience.
In order to help reduce the spread of infection in Greater Manchester, save lives and reduce the risk of a local lockdown, people in Greater Manchester should continue to stick to public health advice to:
- stay at home as much as possible
- limit contact with other people
- wash your hands regularly
- keep 2 metres distance from anyone other than those you live with or are in a support bubble with
- meet up with other people outside only and in groups of no more than six people from different households
- wear a face covering on public transport and in enclosed spaces
- self-isolate and get a test immediately if you get coronavirus symptoms
- if you test positive, help us trace everyone you’ve been in contact with since your symptoms started
- stay at home for 14 days if you’re told by NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been close to someone who is infected
All this information, along with advice to business and links to more detail, is available from www.togethergm.org.
Today also sees each Council publish their Covid-19 outbreak management plans as they have responsibility in the first instance for managing outbreaks. Each of the ten districts in Greater Manchester were asked by the Government to produce local management plans which are available on their websites.
The Greater Manchester plan has been published today too. It outlines all the different agencies involved at national, regional and local level as well as the structures put in place in Greater Manchester to prevent the spread of coronavirus, identify cases, trace those who have come into contact with the virus, manage outbreaks where they occur and how to support those affected by it. It provides a framework to support the local management plans.
Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Partnership said:
“The figures published today shows the situation in each of our districts and while the number of positive cases of Covid-19 is slightly higher in some Councils compared to others, we are closely monitoring and managing the situation. We don’t want anyone to be alarmed. Rather, the purpose of making this information public is to be open, honest and transparent with the public about what’s happening in their area so they can make an informed choice in their day-to-day lives. We’ve also been doing more testing compared to other parts of England and this will be reflected in our figures.”
“I want to thank everyone in Greater Manchester for their efforts over the last few difficult months by sticking to the rules. We must keep going and not lose the hard won gains of reducing the number of cases.”
Professor Kate Ardern, lead director of public health for the GMCA for health protection and emergency planning & Response said:
“Although we’re easing back into a new normality, the threat from coronavirus is still with us. That’s why we must continue to protect ourselves and save lives by following good hand hygiene practice, continue to physically distance and wear face coverings in confined public spaces. Every life lost in Greater Manchester is a tragedy and the Greater Manchester Covid-19 Management Plan to control outbreaks aims to limit the spread of the disease and keep us safe.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, added:
“I’ve said for a while that the easing of lockdown has been too soon when we’re not out of the woods yet and we risk infection rates creeping up again. We’re doing our bit at city-region level to support the efforts of our ten Council as well as working with national Government to introduce measures to identify infections, manage infections and support those who have been infected. I know people here will be concerned at what they’re seeing in Leicester and businesses will be worried. I hope that by having local and a regional outbreak management plan will reassure the public that we have systems in place to prevent a local lockdown and provide clarity to all those involved in managing coronavirus as we learn to live with it.”
The Covid-19 Management plan also covers the benefits of working together:
- Establishing the GM Contact Tracing Model and Integrated Hub which builds on existing regional approaches to health protection, bringing in specialist staffing and resource within Greater Manchester where it can more effectively support and enable activity in districts and will also ensure that cross border issues can be dealt with in the most effective way.
- Deploying mobile testing units across Greater Manchester for outbreak management and active case finding based on dynamic situation assessments in full consultation with public health leaders in Greater Manchester.
- Addressing any outbreaks in secondary schools – the leadership being with the district in which the school is located but recognising that collaboration may be required given that, on average, half the students in a secondary school come from other districts.
- Addressing transmission between different districts – where rapid spread might lead to significant outbreaks in multiple places. And then quickly deploying additional staff and resources needed to halt transmission.
The plan further notes that Greater Manchester is part of the national arrangements of NHS Track, Trace, Contain and Enable (TTCE), and as data flows and access improves, the ambition will be to gain a more detailed picture of the spread of Covid-19 across Greater Manchester which will be nearer to real-time data (in the form of daily dashboards). The TTCE aims will be to use time series/trend analyses to:
- Identify local outbreaks and hotspots through data analysis and mapping
- Provide evidence to support decision making
- Provide evidence to support resource distribution decisions (e.g. testing capacity)
- Provide evidence of communities or groups who may require additional support (e.g. aware of larger numbers of people in a particular area self-isolating)
- Where possible, undertake forecasting and predictive analytics.
If an outbreak needs to be declared somewhere in Greater Manchester, the Greater Manchester Integrated Contact Tracing Hub (GMICTH) will be alerted by the TTCE of cases and will alert the appropriate Council of any complex cases relating to that area. Both the national Test and Trace service and the GMICTH local surveillance system will aim to identify multiple cases in the same setting that will require further investigation, and the GMICTH will alert the relevant Council single point of contact (SPOC). The SPOC ensures the timely flow of information and effective case management between different districts and key organisations in Greater Manchester.
If an outbreak is declared, an outbreak control team (OCT) will be set up. The OCT will agree and coordinate the activities of the agencies involved in the investigation and control of an outbreak in order to assess the risk to public health and ensure that control measures are implemented as soon as possible and, if required, legal advice sought. In a sustained outbreak, specific buildings and settings may choose to close. The organisation and functioning of an OCT remains the responsibility of the Council, and specific information will be included in the Council Covid-19 Management Plans.
If outbreaks become complex and wider consequences start to impact on communities, escalation of issues to the Greater Manchester Strategic Command Group will be considered. Should the situation arise where significant community transmission and outbreaks are overwhelming the Greater Manchester healthcare system or other critical parts of the Greater Manchester system, this will be escalated to national Government to discuss appropriate further measures to contain the spread of the virus that may be required.
The plan sets out the current arrangements in Greater Manchester but it will remain under constant review given the rapidly changing situation of Covid-19: our understanding of the disease and the most effective medical approaches to combating it; the guidance, regulations and legislation are changing to reflect the disease prevalence; the impacts on our communities are still evolving; and we are still all learning how to best live with it.