Coronavirus: 'Major incident' declared in Greater Manchester as infection rates rise

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A major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester in a bid to tackle a rise in coronavirus infection rates.

The decision was announced three days after health minister Matt Hancock imposed local lockdowns across the region.

Greater Manchester Police’s assistant chief constable Nick Bailey said the move would help local agencies reduce the number of new cases.

Mr Bailey, who is also chairman of the Local Resilience Forum, ​added that it followed a meeting this weekend to discuss the new restrictions announced on Thursday.

He said: “Recognising that there are multiple localities across Greater Manchester seeing rises in infection rates, the group reviewed learning from other recent areas, including Leicester, and its own learning from across the partnership and have taken the decision to declare this a major incident in order to respond as effectively as possible.

“This will enable us to maximise the capability of agencies across Greater Manchester, including additional resources if required, to instigate a prompt and positive change in direction.

“It is part of our desire to protect the population of Greater Manchester and provide them with the highest levels of assurance that agencies are doing all they can to reduce infection rates and bring Greater Manchester back to as near a state of normality as current times allow.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, told the Manchester Evening News that people ‘should not be alarmed’ by the announcement of a major incident.

“This is standard practice for complex situations which require a multi-agency response,” he said.

“Although the council and partner organisations have been working closely to tackle the impacts of the pandemic since early this year, declaring a major incident means we can ramp this up further.

“It allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources.

“Following last week’s government announcement of preventative public health measures across Greater Manchester to address rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, the public would expect us to give this situation our concerted collective attention. That, with a view to enabling these restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, is exactly what we are doing.”

The city’s mayor Andy Burnham has called on the government to reinstate the shielding guidance which ended on 1 August.

“Failure to do so is wrong and inhumane,” he said on Sunday afternoon, urging for the policy to restart again from Monday morning.
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