A major incident was declared in Greater Manchester last night amid rising coronavirus infection rates across "multiple localities". 

The move comes after the government announced lockdown restrictions across the region on Thursday in response to a growing number of cases. 

Authorities say the 'major incident' declaration is simply a way to use extra resources if needed, and assured residents they need not be alarmed. 

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) described it as "no more than a boost to our capabilities" while the police force said it would mean they could "respond as effectively as possible" to the increasing rates of infection.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said it is "standard practice for complex situations which require a coordinated multi-agency response".

READ MORE: The latest weekly coronavirus rates including Bolton's figure

He said the move means they can ramp up efforts already being made by different organisations working together and "allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources".

According to Jesip, an organisation which sets out the standard approach to how organisations such as police and councils work together, a major incident is an event or situation with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies.

The Government website states that local councils have emergency plans covering major incidents such as flooding, flu pandemics and transport accidents.

Jesip said declaring a major incident "triggers a predetermined strategic and tactical response" for each emergency service and any other agencies which may be involved.

The declaration on Sunday does not change the local lockdown restrictions announced on Thursday, the GMCA said, but allows public agencies in the area to access any extra resources they might need "as quickly and efficiently as possible".

In June, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council declared a major incident when it said services were "stretched to the absolute hilt" as thousands of sun-seekers flocked to beaches amid a heatwave.

Dorset Police explained that doing so allowed them to bring agencies together "so we can take actions available to us to safeguard the public as much as possible", with much of the national lockdown still very much in place amid the pandemic.

Extra police patrols were brought in as the council said it had been left with no choice but to "initiate an emergency response" to deal with the huge crowds.