Northern mayors call on Boris Johnson to publish coronavirus 'R number' for each UK region

Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City region have written to Boris Johnson calling on him to publish the ‘R number’ (the rate of infection) for each region of the UK on a daily basis after criticising his decision to relax lockdown restrictions.

Manchester's Andy Burnham and Liverpool's Steve Rotheram said the risk of coronavirus is “different in different parts of the country” and that the new measures announced by the prime minister on Sunday “has increased the levels of risk to our residents”.

They have asked the PM to publish the R number - the "effective reproduction number" - of Covid-19 that indicates how quickly the virus is spreading, on a "regional and even sub-regional basis".

Mr Burnham told the Calling Peston podcast that the R number in the North West was currently 0.8, and said the lockdown should not have been lifted in the region.

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“Myself and the mayor of the Liverpool City region both feel that what happened on Sunday has increased levels of risk to our residents,” said Mr Burnham.

"We are writing to the prime minister today to call on him to recognise that and to publish the R rate on a regional basis or even a sub-regional basis...daily or as regularly as possible.

"It’s our view that we need to empower our residents with more information so they can make more informed choices, and obviously given that the risk is different in different parts of the country, I think we need to explain that more clearly to people.

"The absence of that information is increasingly a problem.

"I think this decision was made with other parts of the country in mind and I don’t think the time was right for this decision to be made in the North of England."

Mayors Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham have co-signed a letter to the PM. Credit: PA

Mr Burnham also told the Calling Peston podcast that if he had the same powers as the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland he too would have maintained the “stay at home” message and kept the lockdown in place.

“When a big change is announced to the country on a Sunday night, that change, given the nature of where we are with the virus, is going to impact more on some regions than others.

"It’s my job and it’s Steve Rotheram’s job to protect the health and safety and the well-being of our residents and that is why we made this intervention."