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COVID-19: No easy answers for Bolton's route out of lockdown after surge in cases caused by Indian variant

·2-min read

Everyone just wants it to be over - but in Bolton, it's starting again.

There's a surge in coronavirus cases and a frantic effort to hold on to all the good work that's been done.

The vaccination rollout is already being ramped up - people can just turn up for a jab at Bolton's mobile vaccine bus.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

In the long queue that formed this morning, resident Mohammed Hussain told Sky News: "It's the Indian variant right now and you just don't want everything closing down again.

"The government should have kept the borders even tighter but it's here now so we have to just try and sort it out."

Alex Kirkman was also waiting for his first jab: "I'm desperate to get this vaccine done - the quicker we all get it the better.

"Let's get things open but it is imperative that we all get this (vaccine) done."

A Sky News analysis shows that in the two weeks to 4 May, Bolton had the second-highest infection rate in the country at 158.9 cases per 100,000 people.

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has said one of the primary reasons for the spike is the imported Indian variant of the virus which is proving to be highly transmissible.

The idea of turbocharging the vaccine effort in the town is under discussion - Mr Burnham would like everyone over the age of 16 to be offered a jab.

So far the government and local health authorities say they are focused on enhanced testing, the current vaccine programme and continuing to encourage people to follow the rules.

Youth community leader Saeed Atcha told Sky News he was concerned that the Muslim celebration of Eid could tempt more people to gather indoors and flout the rules: "I would say there's a lot of people who still haven't had the vaccine.

"The risk is that if we meet for Eid and we pass it into our parents and grandparents it is going to get out of hand again."

Bolton has had one of the toughest paths through this pandemic - people have lived under many more weeks of restrictions than the rest of the country.

Hospital admissions this spring are still mercifully low but the data the health officials are seeing every day in the UK's COVID-19 hotspots is not good.

Whether it changes Bolton's path out of lockdown is the great unknown - it's a difficult call with no easy answer.

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