Mayor hails progress on Covid-19 vaccine and case rates but has concerns over hospitals and care homes

Greater Manchester's first citizen Andy Burnham gave a mixed appraisal of the situation in the city-region at his press conference on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 2:50 pm

Mr Burnham said there had been "sizeable decreases" in Covid-19 case rates and said the vaccination roll-out was going well.

However, he also expressed concern over rising numbers of care home patients with coronavirus symptoms and said the region was reaching the peak period of pressure on the NHS.

Mr Burnham also said he remained a little concerned about reports suggesting there will be cuts to the North West's vaccines supply in February.

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham

However, he said he had been told the region will receive enough doses to hit its target of vaccinating 560,000 people by mid-February.

The press conference also began on a sombre note as Mr Burnham reflected on the UK passing the horrific milestone of 100,000 deaths with Covid-19.

He said 5,880 people in Greater Manchester have died with the coronavirus but it was vital to remember they are people, not just numbers.

He said: "It is really important to focus on this for a moment. These people were all someone's mum, dad, nan, grandad, brother, sister, neighbour or work colleague.

"They are all people who contributed to life here in Greater Manchester in one way or another, who built the place or lit up the place.

"We need to say to the families grieving that we know yesterday will have been difficult and brought back the pain and that we are thinking about you."

Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester has seen a number of notable decreases in Covid-19 case rates, with the figures showing Wigan is among those seeing reductions.

There were 332 cases per 100,000 residents in Wigan in the week ending January 22.

This is a notable reduction from the 421.7 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending January 15.

However, Mr Burnham sounded a note of caution, saying these figures remained large and at the higher end of what the region faced in 2020.

There was also good news on vaccinations, with 309,469 people having received a first dose of a vaccine as of January 26.

Mr Burnham said: "This is a really good position to be in at this point. We are getting towards the point of being able to complete the challenge the prime minister set us of having 560,000 people vaccinated by mid-February.

"We are currently running at around 100,000 vaccinations a week and I'm very proud of everybody for putting us in that position."

Mr Burnham responded to NHS sources which spoke to the HSJ about successful regions being given fewer vaccine doses in the first weeks of February.

He said he would continue asking questions about the supply lines to the North West and said he remained concerned about the lack of flexibility in the system to move vaccines around in response to demand.

Mr Burnham also expressed worries about the situation faced by the city-region's hospitals and care homes.

Admissions to hospital with Covid-19 across Greater Manchester jumped to 382 in the week up to January 25 from 236 the previous week.

There were also 617 people in hospital settings diagnosed with Covid in the latest set of statistics.

There are 1,133 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 165 of them are in critical care.

Mr Burnham said: "We are at the moment of maximum pressure on the NHS. These are big numbers.

"I'm informed that one in four patients in Greater Manchester is a Covid patient.

"We expect peak pressure on the hospital system to arrive around the weekend."

Mr Burnham also described the position of care homes as "slightly more worrying".

The rate of people in care settings having Covid-19 across Greater Manchester is going up.

In the week ending January 26 a total of 2.6 per cent of residents in care homes had symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

This was an increase from 2.1 in the week ending January 19 and 1.9 in the week ending January 12.

The heat maps also show small increases in cases among older age groups, although the majority of people testing positive for Covid-19 remain aged between 16 and 44.

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