Matt Hancock told to expect ‘unrest’ in Bolton if local lockdown imposed due to spread of Indian variant

Coronavirus – Tue May 18, 2021 (PA Wire)
10:43am, Wed 19 May 2021
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been warned there could be “unrest” in Bolton if the Government brings in local lockdowns to contain the Indian variant.

David Greenhalgh, Conservative leader at Bolton Council, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve been there before and they don’t work – not in a dense conurbation like Greater Manchester.

“This happened before, the spread increased because people travelled 50 yards across the county boundary to access hospitality that they can’t in their own area.”

Asked if he had told Mr Hancock there would be civil unrest, he said: “I do think there is a danger of unrest.

This would be a very, very difficult situation to manage I believe

“There is a great deal of resentment. Bolton was… we were disproportionately affected really since July last year.

“Even when our rates were coming down, we still remained in lockdown when other areas’ rates were higher than ours, so there was a build up of resentment.

“The people of Bolton have a great spirit and they come together when times are difficult.

“But this would be a very, very difficult situation to manage I believe – if we went into a lockdown that we have personal experience of as a town, which did not work.”

Mr Greenhalgh said there was no sign yet that cases were coming under control in Bolton, adding that “our cases are still rising”.

Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in the UK (PA Graphics)

He continued: “I think that was, to be honest, expected. We are putting all the measures in that we can at the moment.

“We have community spread, there’s no doubt about that, and we’re holding back a variant that would appear – although the evidence is still being gathered – to be a little bit more transmissible, easily transmissible.

“The majority of our cases are in very much our younger age groups – primary school, secondary school and in their 20s.

“We still haven’t got an increase in hospitalisation and severe illness, which is hugely welcome, those figures still remain low.

People queuing for Covid vaccinations in Bolton (PA Wire)

“We’re doing everything we can. The Government has sent in surge vaccinations, surge testing… We’re doing everything we can, but I think the next two weeks we will still see our cases rising.”

Figures for the seven days to May 14 show that Bolton continues to have the highest rate of new Covid cases per 100,000 people in England.

It had 867 new cases in the seven days – the equivalent of 301.5 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 150.2 in the seven days to May 7.

Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire had the second highest rate, up from 86.2 to 131.6, with 197 new cases.

Bedford had the third highest, up from 64.6 to 128.1, with 222 new cases.

Bolton had the biggest week-on-week rise of any area in England, up from 150.2 to 301.5.

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