Mayor warns a "large amount" of Covid-19 virus is still circulating in Greater Manchester

A "large amount" of the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in Greater Manchester according to new testing data, the region's mayor Andy Burnham said.

He warned the public to stay cautious as the country emerges from lockdown after the region received pillar 2 test results - swabs of the wider population - for the first time across its 10 boroughs.

Previously the authorities in Greater Manchester had only been able to release pillar 1 test data in which swabs are taken at Public Health England labs and NHS hospitals for those with a clinical need, and health and care workers.

This week, Mr Burnham said the number of positive pillar 1 positive cases was 78 - a continued decrease - but leapt to 465 when combined with the pillar 2 data.

Speaking at his weekly coronavirus press conference, he said: "Finally we have been able to put pillar 1 and pillar 2 together and get much more of a truer picture in terms of what's going on with the spread, the circulation of Covid-19 in Greater Manchester.

"It represents a significant number of new cases and while the overall numbers are coming down and transmission is reducing, nevertheless there is still a significant amount of Covid-19 circulating within Greater Manchester. For the first time we are seeing the true picture."

He stressed though that more tests were being carried out in the region than "pretty much anywhere else in the country" and the figures were a reflection of increased testing activity.

However he added it was a "warning sign" and they would monitor the figures in the coming days and weeks.

Andy Burnham at today's remote news conference Credit: GMCA