Up to 25 per cent of all new coronavirus cases across Greater Manchester can be attributed to the new strain seen spreading rapidly through southern England.
Experts predict there could be even higher number of new cases down to the new variant currently due to a data lag.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced the figures at a press conference on Thursday morning (31 December).
He said that partly as a result of this new strain, he and Greater Manchester’s leaders are in agreement with the government’s decision to place the city-region under the toughest Tier 4 restrictions, as a ‘preventative’ measure.
Mr Burnham said: “What has changed up to now is the prevalence of the new strain of the virus, around 25pc of our cases can be attributed to the new strain and experts think it could be higher. And research shows it is much more transmittable.
“We’ve become aware of the new levels of cases linked to the new variant and if we didn’t take action we’d see the very steep rise like in the South East and London.
“The overall positivity rate across Greater Manchester has gone back into double figures. On all of the government’s criteria we are seeing an increase – cases in the over-60s, hospital admissions and positivity rates.
“This is very much a preventative move and one that is supported, but we do believe that national arrangements would be more appropriate at this moment in time as that would strengthen the clarity of the message across the country.”
It is understood that the new variant of the virus is more widely in transmission across the city-region and isn’t linked to a particular location in Greater Manchester.
The current infection rates in nine of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs is known to be rising.
Mr Burnham said there was an obviously marked change since just before Christmas and hospital admissions figures were significantly higher for the week beginning 28 December than the previous week.
He said Greater Manchester’s hospitals are in ‘a challenging but manageable position’ with capacity still left in the system.
But he warned: “The number of people being diagnoses in hospitals is still pretty high.
“Bed occupancy, number of patients in intensive or high dependency beds has risen. While it’s not as high as it was in the November peak, it is still rising which is a concern at this time of year.”
Yesterday (Wednesday), 981 people died across the UK with coronavirus, close to the highest number of daily deaths seen in the first peak of the virus back in April.
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