HEALTH authorities and council leaders have appealed for people across Bolton to remain cautious after two suspected Omicron cases were discovered in the borough.

The two cases were confirmed on Wednesday amid concerns across the country about the new Covid variant and its capacity to spread in the run-up to Christmas.

Bolton Council executive member for health and wellbeing Cllr Sue Baines has said that they hope to allow people to enjoy the festive period but that they should abide by the guidelines.

She said: "With regard to trying to live as normally as possible we're trying to have a good Christmas and we don't want to dampen people's spirits.

"But by the same token we want people to abide by the rules and as usual our public health team have been on the case."

She added: "We're just really urging people to abide by the guidelines because ultimately they are there to help keep everyone safe."

Cllr Baines encouraged people in the borough to continue wearing face masks on public transport, to wash their hands and remain hygienic and to ensure that public events they attend are well ventilated.

Public health leaders have welcomed the expansion of the vaccine booster programme as the best way to tackle new variants and try to ensure that a normal Christmas is still possible.

In particular, Bolton vaccination programme senior responsible officer Dr Helen Wall has welcomed the decision to expand the booster programme to people under the age of 40, as well as reduce the period between second and booster doses from six months to three months, for that age group.

She said: "Rest assured, Bolton and the rest of the country is working hard to have these arrangements in place as quickly as possible.

"However, as we await further operating procedures and get our vaccination sites prepared for this extra capacity, please bear with us and don’t attend a walk-in clinic until we are ready to invite you if you are included in this new category.

"The national booking system is expected to expand from December 13 and people will be invited in decreasing age order, and according to vulnerability to this virus.

“In the meantime, I would urge everyone who is eligible for a booster because they are 40 or over, and it has been six months since their second jab, to come forward now and get vaccinated.

"Similarly, if you have yet to have your second, or even your first jab, it is not too late! People aged 16 and 17 can now also have a second dose if it has been 12 weeks since their first."