Covid Delta variant: People in Lancashire and Greater Manchester advised by government to 'minimise travel'

ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke has the latest data and what it could mean for hopes of lockdown easing in England on June 21

Government advice for residents in Lancashire and Greater Manchester to "minimise travel" due to a rise of Delta Covid variant cases, is "not a lockdown" and "not a ban", Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.

The new advice - which will apply to 5.7 million people - also states that, wherever possible, people should meet outside and keep two metres apart from people they don't live with.

But Mr Burnham said it was “very important to keep a sense of proportion”.

He said: “This is guidance, it is advice to the public. It is not a lockdown. It is not a ban… this is not about telling people to cancel their plans, it is about asking them to be careful in setting any new ones, to minimise non-essential travel.”

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not mention the changes to advice in the Commons on Tuesday but announced the government would give a "strengthened package of support" to the areas to tackle increasing cases of the Delta variant, which was formerly identified as the Indian variant.

The support includes military support with testing and supervised in-school testing. Local public health bosses will also be able to reintroduce face masks in communal areas.

He said : "I can tell the House that today, working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support based on what's happening in Bolton to help Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackle the rise in the Delta variant that we are seeing there.

"This includes rapid response teams, putting in extra testing, military support and supervised in-school testing.

"I want to encourage everyone in Manchester and Lancashire to get the tests on offer.

"We know that this approach can work, we've seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.

"This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and Lancashire and of course it's vital that people in these areas, as everywhere else, come forward and get the jab as soon as they are eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together."

He did not reveal just how many cases of the variant had been identified in those areas.

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Mr Burnham called on the government to release vaccine supplies earlier than planned.

He said: “Obviously what we’re seeing here is a localised approach to messaging, more localised support on testing and on tracing and isolation. We are also saying that also should apply to vaccination.

“We are not asking for any more vaccine here than our fair share, what we are asking for is the bringing forward of Greater Manchester’s supplies, so that we can run a surge vaccination programme over the next three weeks.”

Nearly a third of secondary school pupils in Bolton were absent for Covid-related reasons on the week before half-term, government figures suggest.

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In the North West of England, Covid-19 related pupil absence was 4% on May 27, compared to the national average of 1.8%, according to the statistics,

This is predominantly due to an increase in cases of coronavirus in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen, the Department for Education (DfE) analysis said.

In Bolton, 21% of primary and 31% of secondary pupils were reported as absent for Covid-19 related reasons on May 27.

The South West of England had the lowest levels of Covid-19 related pupil absence of any region, with levels well below 1% throughout the half term.

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