BOLTON'S epic efforts in combatting rising Covid-19 infection rates have been praised by a Government minister.

Surge testing and vaccinations have been deployed throughout the borough in recent weeks which has helped curb the rise of coronavirus cases.

This has enabled Bolton - which had the highest rate of new cases in the UK in May - to slow the number of new infections.

However other areas of Greater Manchester are seeing a spike in new infections.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the other Covid hotspots should replicate the targeted action seen in Bolton rather than return to a regional tier system.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday: “We don’t have any plan to return to the regional or the tiered approach that we saw last autumn.

“What we want to do is provide as much support as we possibly can to a local community and to work as closely as we can with the local leaders.

“We have seen in Bolton that that approach has worked. It did require a lot of effort and Bolton Council has been brilliant, the NHS there, local people above all have been extremely helpful and effective in combating it.

“So that approach, of going door to door with testing, doing the surge testing, doing the vaccine buses, getting everybody out to be vaccinated, has worked there.

“If we can replicate that in other places where you see similarly concerning rises in the number of cases, then that is the best way forward.”

The town also holds the key as to whether the vaccine rollout has cut the number of hospitalisations due to the virus.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said that Bolton's hospital numbers suggest that this is the case and that the link between infections, hospital admissions and deaths had been broken.

He told Times Radio: “And if, and it is a big if, if Bolton has gone through its complete cycle and if others areas follow Bolton, the view from the hospital there was that they were able to cope with the level of infections.

“It’s important not to just focus on the raw numbers here…you also do need to look at who’s being admitted into hospital and how clinically vulnerable and what level of acuity they’ve got.

“What chief executives are consistently telling us is that it is a much younger population that is coming in, they are less clinically vulnerable, they are less in need of critical care and therefore they’re seeing what they believe is significantly lower mortality rate which is, you know, borne out by the figures.

"So it’s not just the numbers of people who are coming in, it’s actually the level of harm and clinical risk.”