Covid cases in Blackburn with Darwen, the local authority with England’s highest infection rate, have peaked, Public Health England figures indicate.
PHE data shows a total of 897 cases in Blackburn with Darwen for the seven days to 10 July, giving the town a rolling rate of 599 cases per 100,000 people.
While this represents a rise from 548.4 the previous week, it is below the 667 figure recorded for the seven days to 7 June – the highest for the area since mid-January.
The seven-day rolling rate has fallen on each successive day since 7 June.
After Blackburn, the local authorities with the highest rates are neighbouring Ribble Valley and Hyndburn with respective rates of 458 and 411 cases per 100,000.
The relatively high case numbers in Lancashire and Greater Manchester have been driven by the spread of the Delta variant in the region. Public Health England estimates that the Delta variant is 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant.
Blackburn with Darwen council leaders, including the director of public health, Prof Dominic Harrison, said the rate of increase was now slowing and would eventually “plateau” because of the positive impact of surge testing and extra vaccinations.
Moreover, they said the government’s four-week delay in lifting restrictions represented an opportunity to help get control of rates in the borough.
In a joint statement, the council leader, Mohammed Khan, adult services director, Sayyed Osman, and Harrison said: “We have been fighting the rate rise in our borough since May and know from experience just how difficult it is to balance concerns about the Delta variant.
“The rest of the country is now seeing an increase in Covid case rates similar to the rises already seen here and in other parts of the north-west such as Bolton. This delay presents Blackburn with Darwen with an opportunity.
“The support we have had in surge testing and extra vaccinations for over-18s over the last four weeks is having an impact.
“Although we have seen increases in positive Covid cases, our rate of increase is now slowing, and we expect to see this improve until our case rates eventually plateau, and then begin to decline.
“We need to make the most of this opportunity. We urge all our residents to pull together and do everything they can to help get control of our virus rates now. It’s also vital that everyone takes up the offer of the vaccine.
“If we all do our bit, within another four weeks the picture in Blackburn with Darwen could look very different.”