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Greater Manchester town Oldham now has the third-highest rate of coronavirus cases in the country, according to the latest figures from Public Health England. Despite pleas from councillors to not impose a local lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility. Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire warned Times Radio that the minister may not have realised how “complex” the situation is.
She told listeners: “What this illustrates is the tension that there has been throughout this entire crisis.
“It’s a top-down Government failing to consult the people on the ground in local areas who know best what’s going on in their local area, and that is particularly councils.
“I hear this from my own council, but also from councils across the country.
“Council leaders feel really frustrated because they want to work cooperatively with the Government.”
Ms Debbonaire continued: “They do not feel that they’ve been adequately and properly involved in big decisions that affect local people.
“After all, if businesses close, if jobs are lost, that also has a health consequence.
“These things are complicated and we’ve been put in a position by Matt Hancock of it being presented as an either-or. I think that’s more complex than he’s realising.
“I think that he really should have been talking to local council leaders earlier and more constructively and listening to what they have to say.”
Oldham council leader Sean Fielding warned that it will be “catastrophic and premature” if the town goes back into lockdown with businesses being closed down again.
He admitted that the “raw numbers” suggest the town is similar to Leicester at the point the city was put into local lockdown.
However, Mr Fielding argued that it would not be the “right solution for the wave of the pandemic that seen in Oldham”.
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The Greater Manchester borough has recorded 266 cases of coronavirus for the week ending August 11.
This is its highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
Household transmission seem to be driving the infections.
Most cases are reportedly among the working age population.
There is little increase in hospital admissions or deaths.
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