Eighty per cent of new Covid-19 cases in part of Greater Manchester are among white people, a local health boss has said.
Eleanor Roaf, the director of public health in Trafford, said there are fears of a ‘complacent middle class’.
She worries white people will think the coronavirus only affects those in deprived areas and people from black, asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.
A number of health chiefs in other parts of Greater Manchester said that is where they were seeing most new cases.
However in Trafford, where the infection rate has tripled in one week, cases are centered in the ‘nice leafy suburbs’.
There had been a surge of 17 to 22 years olds coming forward for testing in recent weeks, followed by those in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Ms Roaf suspects young people going out to pubs and bars and then spreading the coronavirus to their parents.
Trafford and eight other authorities in Greater Manchester are in the top 20 areas with the highest infection rates in England, according to official data.
This graph shows the number of infections across Greater Manchester from July 1 to July 29, two days before the new lockdown measures were reintroduced
Greater Manchester police (GMP) and local authority leaders declared a major incident on Sunday amid concern about rising infection rates across the region.
The move came at the start of a week when warmer weather is expected to draw greater numbers of people to parks, pubs and private gardens.
It followed new lockdown style rules across Greater Manchester, as well as parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, on Friday.
Ministers announced that people in those areas were no longer allowed to visit other people’s houses, because data suggested cases were being driven by household socialising.
CORONAVIRUS R RATE COULD BE AS HIGH AS 1.1 IN THE NORTH WEST
The coronavirus reproduction rate could be as high as 1.1 in the North West of England, according to figures released yesterday — as separate data revealed infections have doubled in a week in locked-down parts of Greater Manchester.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimate the ‘R’ level has risen well above the danger zone in the North West, where 4.5million people were put under tough new lockdown measures last week because of a spike in cases.
The R – which represents the average number of people an infected Covid-19 patient passes the disease to – must stay below 1 or the virus will start to grow exponentially.
The data, compiled by the university’s Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, suggests cases in the region could double in 56 days if the R rate is not squashed.
But the estimates are slightly out of date due to a lag in the way the reproduction rate is calculated, meaning they only go up to July 18. Any effect last week’s lockdown might’ve had on the R value won’t show up in the figures for several weeks.
Separate worrying figures published by Public Health England today show that infection rates increased in nine out of 10 boroughs in Manchester between July 22 and 29, two days before the new rules were introduced.
Rochdale was the only place where cases were not on the rise but infections have now also started to dip in Wigan and Bolton after a weekend of lockdown measures.
Oldham, the second worst affected borough in England, saw 148 cases over the week — taking its rate from 41.6 to 62.8 cases per 100,000 people. Rates in both the City of Manchester and Tameside have more than doubled in seven days.
Much of the coverage of the region’s rise in infections has focused on Oldham, which has the second highest infection rate in England.
Local health officials said last week that two-thirds of new cases (261 in the past two weeks) were in the town’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.
It followed the news that around 85 per cent of new cases in the hardest hit authority in England — Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire — were among the South Asian population.
But in Trafford, a wealthy area that stretches to the outskirts on Greater Manchester, most of the new cases — some 162 in the past two weeks — are in white people, Ms Roaf has revealed.
‘Ninety-two per cent of cases had ethnicity recorded and of those 80 per cent were white,’ she told The Guardian.
‘The Trafford narrative is that it is a very white outbreak in Trafford. In other places the narrative is quite different.
‘One of the anxieties is that we don’t end up with a complacent white middle class thinking it’s not affecting them because they think it’s about overcrowding in ethnic minority families.’
Public health statistics show BAME populations have higher death and infection rates than other population groups.
Health experts say this could be partly blamed on greater health inequalities and more underlying health issues, along with cultural and traditional differences.
Asians often have bigger families living together with older generations in smaller terraced houses, with many in public-facing jobs such as in the NHS or taxi drivers, creating a greater risk of household transmission.
This may be driving cases in some parts of Greater Manchester, Ms Roaf said, particularly Rochdale, Oldham and Blackburn.
Speaking on the BBC Newcast podcast, Ms Roaf said: ‘In those areas where you’ve got very big households, you’ve got quite a lot of people all mixing together and quite often they are working in occupations where they have a lot of face to face contact with people.’
But in Trafford, ‘infection rates are spreading through people going out and about more and perhaps the relaxing of the night time economy’.
Ms Roaf said the data suggests young people are catching the coronavirus after going out to bars and pubs before spreading it to their parents.
‘When we’ve seen households with high levels of infection it’s been parents with a couple of children. We haven’t seen spread between these three and four generational households.
‘I suspect the young people have been going out more from what they have been saying [to NHS contact tracers].
Eleanor Roaf, the director of public health in Trafford, said there are fears of a ‘complacent middle class’ in Trafford. Pictured: Groups of people – including eight women who appear to be celebrating a hen do – were pictured meeting for drinks in the city centre on Sunday
Ms Roaf suspects young people going out to pubs and bars and then spreading the coronavirus to their parents. Pictured: A group of friends out on the town have a hug on Manchester’s Wilmslow Road which was packed on Saturday night
‘It’s in nice leafy suburbs around Trafford not in our deprived populations. It’s general spread, and that’s what’s worrying for me.
‘I’m really worried that white population maybe is hearing thet messaging and thinking, “oh this isn’t about me, I can continue to do what and want”. And actually no you can’t, no one can.’
Dr Ben Ainsworth, a psychologist at Bath University, said generally, young people are more likely to risk going out and mixing with other people.
He told MailOnline: ‘We know that people constantly balance how much they can obey guidelines with how much they need to. It’s called risk perception.
‘Young people perceive a less immediate risk of catching the virus. And to be honest, the guidelines to date have not been aimed at young people.
‘So we really really need to make sure that clear advice is available and accessible, and also relevant to their contexts.’
And speaking of those risk perception in people who live in deprived areas, Dr Ainsworth, who helped launch the Government-funded website Germ Defense, said: ‘More deprived communities will find that challenging. They might not have a job they can’t do at home.
‘Even if you think the risk is really important but you have to go to work to eat, you will go to work.’
The infection rate in Manchester city was hovering at around 12 cases per 100,000 people in July before it almost doubled in the last week of the month.
Data from Public Health England shows there were 22.1 case per 100,000 in the week ending July 31.
Infection rates increased in nine out of 10 boroughs in Manchester between July 22 and 29, two days before the new rules were introduced, which led to sudden restrictions announced late Thursday night.
Oldham, which had already announced its own stricter two days before, has the highest infection rate in Greater Manchester with 54.3 cases per 100,000 people the week ending July 31.
Following is Trafford (36.8), Rochdale (32.7), Manchester (22.1), Stockport (16.5), Salford (18.1), Tameside (15.5), Bolton (14), Bury (12.1).
Rochdale is the only place where cases are not on the rise but infections have now also started to dip in Wigan and Bolton after a weekend of lockdown measures.