PUBLIC health bosses have urged people in Bolton to stay at home as much as they can as the coronavirus reinfection number rises in the region.

The ‘R’ number in the North West is now 1.01 – the highest in England.

This means every infectious individual is transmitting the virus to more than one person on average, raising the risk of another peak in the pandemic.

Dr Helen Lowey, Bolton Council’s director of public health, has urged people in the borough to keep following the latest government rules on the lockdown.

She said: “We continue to face real risks from coronavirus and it is vital that people continue to follow the latest government advice and guidelines.

“We need your help to reduce transmission – please keep to the social distancing rules, keep practising good hand hygiene and stay at home as much as you can.

“If you take part in outdoor activities please remember to stick to social distancing and wear a face covering if you use public transport.

“If you have symptoms of coronavirus, please book a test and self-isolate to help prevent the further spread of infections.

“We need everyone to do their bit to help slow the spread of the virus.”

Restrictions will stay in place at Royal Bolton Hospital as the R number rises.

But those who require urgent medical attention are encouraged to seek it.

A spokesman from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said:  “We are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We continue to have in place visitor restrictions and are only allowing patients into our A&E department to ensure people stay socially distant.

“However, we want to stress that people should not delay in seeking treatment for serious or life threatening medical conditions and should still attend all appointments unless they are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms.”

The new figures follow expert analysis of coronavirus infection rates which showed a North-South divide.

The ‘R’ statistics prepared for Public Health England by a Cambridge University research team show that in the North West the median onward transmission for each COVID-19 infected person is 1.01.

Dr Andrew Furber, PHE’s North-West Regional Director, said: “We know here in the North West, we experienced a peak in cases later than the majority of other areas.

“We need to ensure all our communities continue to follow government guidance on social distancing and self-isolation.

“As lockdown measures are eased across the country, it is vitally important we do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.”