A huge milestone has been reached in Greater Manchester’s battle with Covid-19.
The region’s average infection rate has fallen below 50 cases per 100,000 people for the first time since September 1.
According to the latest figures from Public Health England in the week to April 8, Greater Manchester’s infection rate was 45.4.
Last summer an infection rate of 50 was the point at which the government said an area was placed on ‘red alert’
Under the previous strategy, if an area went above 50 then local restrictions were imposed, as happened to Bolton.
The highest rate recorded by an individual borough was 811.8 in Manchester on October 3.
That was unusual in that it followed an outbreak in Fallowfield which coincided with students returning to university.
Most other boroughs in Greater Manchester saw their rates peak in November at the height of the second wave.
Oldham, for example, hit 800.9 cases per 100,000 people on November 5, although during the first wave in March and April 2020 testing was only carried out in hospitals so an accurate comparison is not possible.
The latest figures show just how far Greater Manchester has come in its efforts to suppress the virus.
At several points during the pandemic boroughs in our region have been among the worst-affected in the country.
But now, as the impact of lockdown and the vaccination programme kicks in, cases are falling rapidly across Greater Manchester with several areas seeing week-on-week reductions of more than 40 per cent.
But there is still a long way to go.
Every borough Greater Manchester continues to have an infection rate above the national average of 27.1.
And today Boris Johnson warned more hospitalisations and deaths are ‘inevitable’ after the second stage of lockdown easing saw pubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops – among other venues – reopen on Monday.
The Prime Minister warned that, although the numbers of infections, hospital admissions and deaths are down, the reduction ‘has not been achieved by the vaccination programme’ but rather the lockdown.
He said: “Of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.
“So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths.
“People have just got to understand that.”