THE leader of Bolton Council has vowed that the borough will emerge "stronger than ever" from the coronavirus outbreak, as he pleaded for residents to come together and play their part to defeat the infection.

Councillor David Greenhalgh said he fears the worst it yet to come, in a video address shared today, but praised the spirit of the people of Bolton as residents across the town help those in need.

He also thanked NHS staff and other key workers, and pledged that the council will continue to do all it can help to support people and combat Covid-19.

Cllr Greenhalgh said: "Right now, we have a fight on our hands. Bolton is already seeing the devastating impact of coronavirus and the worst is almost certainly still to come.

"In the coming months we need to work together, support one another, and protect the most vulnerable.

"And we must follow the Government's advice to stay at home, protect the NHS, and to save lives.

"We need to do all that is required to help those working on the frontline in the NHS and in social care, to slow the spread of this deadly virus, and prevent services from being overwhelmed.

"The spirit of the people of Bolton is extraordinary. It will be this spirit which will see us through the difficult days ahead.

"Bolton is usually at its best when times are at their worst and people are already coming together across our communities to help those most in need.

"Boltonians are giving their time, looking out for each other, and being good neighbours.

"I want to thank all those essential workers who are keeping our borough going at this unprecedented time.

"All the council staff, the health workers, the carers, the police officers, the emergency services, and teachers who are rolling their sleeves up and doing what needs to be done. Thank you from all of us.

"As a council we are working hard to keep essential services going during this crisis, and our first concern is always the health and welfare of residents and employees.

"This is hugely challenging as we lose staff to sickness and self isolation and as measures to fight the spread of coronavirus impact on working spaces.

"We will have to make some extremely difficult decisions around priorities and we ask you to please bear with us.

"We always aim to be proactive as a council, but at times such as this we are often forced to be reactive.

"It can't be business as usual. But we will always endeavour to deliver as full a service as possible for you.

"Your patience and your understanding during these times is appreciated.

"I want to pay tribute to the council workers who are turning up for work, day in, day out; whether from home or onsite.

"Thank you for everything you are doing. We are all immensely proud of you.

"A telephone helpline has now been set up to help the most vulnerable in our community to get the help and support they need and they deserve.

"You may be one of the 1.5 million people the Government has asked to self-isolate for three months. Or you might simply have no one to turn to.

"Please do not suffer in silence. We are here to help you. The number to call is 01204 337221.

"The helpline is staffed from 8.30am to 5.30pm from Monday to Friday, and from 9.30am to 1.30pm on Saturdays.

"Please also keep up to date with the latest developments on the council website, and our social media channels.

"If we are to get through this, and I am confident we will, all the agencies involved in delivering public services must work together as one team. It's inspiring to see that happening.

"The council is working with all our partners in the health and social care sectors, in transport, in the emergency services, and the voluntary sector. It really is a team effort.

"We're also talking to central Government to make sure it puts in place support for residents and businesses.

"And, at a Greater Manchester level, we are working with the nine other local authorities, and Combined Authority ­— as well as the Mayor's office.

"This week I have been pressing the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to reverse its decision to close all local authority recycling waste centres.

"Finally, I want to thank the other councillors from Bolton, including those from other parties.

"I am heartened by the willingness they have shown to put political differences aside and work together for the good of the borough and its people.

"There are going to be difficult and challenging times ahead.

"However, I am confident that the people of Bolton are ready and able to rise to this challenge.

"We will get through this. And when we do so we will rally and emerge stronger than ever.

"In the mean time please do everything you can to help us slow down the spread of of this virus.

"Only be everyone playing their part can we hope to protect our NHS, save lives, and return to normal life as soon as possible.

"May you and those close to you please keep safe."