Coronavirus pandemic: The impact on Wigan three years on

It is three years since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the UK's first lockdown.
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We looked at the latest data to see how Wigan has changed since then.


More than 220,000 people have died as a result of Covid-19 across the UK, including 1,493 in Wigan.

It is three years since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country into lockdownIt is three years since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country into lockdown
It is three years since then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the country into lockdown

But people's health has also been affected in other ways.

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Just 54.4 per cent of patients in England with an urgent GP referral for cancer treatment were seen within two months in January – down from 74 per cent in February 2020.

In Greater Manchester, 318 of 624 patients (51 per cent) were seen within two months – in February 2020, 441 of 612 (72.1 per cent) were seen in time.

Jon Shelton, from Cancer Research UK, said: "We need Steve Barclay to step up and commit to a comprehensive and fully-funded 10-year cancer plan which transforms our cancer services from world-lagging to world-leading."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are working to reduce the 62-day cancer backlog – which has fallen 35 per cent since peaking in 2020 – but we know there is more to do.

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"Over 2.8m people were seen after urgent GP referrals between February 2022 and January 2023 and it is encouraging to see more patients coming forward for vital checks.

"NHS England continues to actively support those trusts requiring the greatest help to cut cancer waiting lists and we are working with NHS England to make further improvements."

Mental health also deteriorated, with more people receiving support than ever.

In England, 1.8m people were estimated to be in contact with mental health services in December – up from 1.4m in February 2020 and the highest since records began in April 2016.

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In the former NHS Wigan Borough CCG area, 8,095 people received support for their mental health in December.


The pandemic caused massive disruption to education, with schools forced to teach children remotely and attendance declining.

Department for Education figures show 1.6m pupils across England missed at least 10 per cent of lessons in 2021-22 – more than double the 800,000 who were “persistently absent” in 2018-19.

But in Wigan, the rate of persistently-absent pupils fell from 12.2 per cent in 2018-19 to 11.3 per cent last year.

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Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Schools work very hard to encourage good attendance but have little support as local authority attendance services have also reduced as a result of government cuts.”

The Department for Education said: "We work closely with schools, trusts, governing bodies and local authorities to identify pupils who are at risk of becoming, or who are persistently absent, and working together to support those children to return to regular and consistent education."


Lockdowns and furlough had long-lasting effects on the economy, with businesses forced to close, consumers unable to spend freely and people losing jobs and income.

One change was the move to remote work, and figures from Google show workplace activity remains below pre-pandemic levels.

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Footfall across the UK in October remained around 25 per cent lower than before the pandemic, while workplace activity in Wigan was 22 per cent down.

Similarly, 2021 saw 327,000 businesses closed – a nine per cent increase on the year before – and 1,190 shut in Wigan.