- Eleanor Roaf, the director of public health in Trafford, made the claims
- But she warned most cases in Trafford were in the 'nice leafy suburbs'
- She suspects young people are catching the virus after going out to pubs
- They are then spreading the coronavirus to their parents in small households
Eighty per cent of new Covid-19 cases in one badly-hit part of Greater Manchester are among white people, according to a local official.
Councillors in other parts of the North West — including Blackburn — have warned spikes in coronavirus cases are being driven by the Asian community.
But Eleanor Roaf, director of public health in Trafford, says cases in the borough — home to 235,000 people — are centered in the 'nice leafy suburbs'.
She fears a 'complacent white middle class' will wrongly believe the disease is 'not affecting them because it's about overcrowding in ethnic minority families'.
Official NHS figures show the infection rate in Trafford, one of the wealthiest of the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester, is now starting to decline.
The borough saw 32.6 cases for every 100,000 people between July 26 and August 1 — 10 per cent lower than the week before. Separate data released on Friday showed Trafford's infection rate had tripled in just one week, from 10.2 to 36.8.
Only one authority in Greater Manchester — Wigan — is not named in the list of the 20 areas with the highest infection rates in England.
Health chiefs banned all 2.8million residents in the region from meeting anyone from different households indoors, in a drastic move announced with just three hours' notice last Friday.
Ms Roaf said many of the cases in Trafford were among 17 to 22 year olds but now more people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are testing positive.
She suspects young people going out to pubs and bars are getting infected, and then spreading the coronavirus to their parents.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and local bosses declared a major incident on Sunday, amid concern about the rising infection rates across the region.
It followed new lockdown style rules being implemented across Greater Manchester, as well as parts of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, on Friday. Much of the coverage of the region’s rise in infections has focused on Oldham, which has the second highest infection rate in England.
Local health officials said last week that two-thirds of new cases (261 in the past two weeks) were in the town’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.
It followed the news that around 85 per cent of new cases in the hardest hit authority in England — Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire — were among the South Asian population.
But in Trafford, a wealthy area that stretches to the outskirts on Greater Manchester, most of the new cases — some 162 in the past two weeks — are in white people, Ms Roaf revealed.
'Ninety-two per cent of cases had ethnicity recorded and of those 80 per cent were white,' she told The Guardian.
'The Trafford narrative is that it is a very white outbreak in Trafford. In other places the narrative is quite different.
'One of the anxieties is that we don’t end up with a complacent white middle class thinking it’s not affecting them because they think it’s about overcrowding in ethnic minority families.'
Public health statistics show BAME populations have higher death and infection rates than other population groups.
Health experts say this could be partly blamed on greater health inequalities and more underlying health issues, along with cultural and traditional differences.
Asian people often have bigger families living together with older generations in smaller terraced houses, with many in public-facing jobs such as in the NHS or taxi drivers, creating a greater risk of household transmission.
This may be driving cases in some parts of Greater Manchester, Ms Roaf said, particularly Rochdale, Oldham and Blackburn.
Speaking on the BBC Newscast podcast, Ms Roaf said: 'In those areas where you've got very big households, you've got quite a lot of people all mixing together and quite often they are working in occupations where they have a lot of face to face contact with people.'
But in Trafford she said 'infection rates are spreading through people going out and about more and perhaps the relaxing of the night time economy'.
Ms Roaf said the data suggests young people are catching the coronavirus after going out to bars and pubs before spreading it to their parents.
'When we've seen households with high levels of infection it's been parents with a couple of children. We haven’t seen spread between these three and four generational households.
'I suspect the young people have been going out more from what they have been saying [to NHS contact tracers].
'It's in nice leafy suburbs around Trafford not in our deprived populations. It's general spread, and that’s what's worrying for me.
'I'm really worried that white population maybe is hearing that messaging and thinking, "oh this isn’t about me, I can continue to do what and want". And actually no you can't, no one can.'
Dr Ben Ainsworth, a psychologist at Bath University, said generally, young people are more likely to risk going out and mixing with other people.
He told MailOnline: 'We know that people constantly balance how much they can obey guidelines with how much they need to. It's called risk perception.
'Young people perceive a less immediate risk of catching the virus. And to be honest, the guidelines to date have not been aimed at young people.
'So we really, really need to make sure that clear advice is available and accessible, and also relevant to their contexts.'
And speaking of risk perceptions in people who live in deprived areas, Dr Ainsworth, who helped launch the Government-funded website Germ Defense, said: 'More deprived communities will find that challenging. They might not have a job they can't do at home.
'Even if you think the risk is really important but you have to go to work to eat, you will go to work.'
The infection rate in Manchester city was hovering at around 12 cases per 100,000 people in July before it almost doubled in the last week of the month.
Data from Public Health England shows there were 22.1 case per 100,000 in the week ending July 31.
Infection rates increased in nine out of 10 boroughs in the area between July 22 and 29, two days before the new rules were introduced.
But data released today showed rates between July 26 and August 1 have dropped in four boroughs in Greater Manchester.
Oldham has the highest infection rate, with 54.3 cases per 100,000 people for the week ending July 31.
It is followed by Trafford (36.8), Rochdale (32.7), Manchester (22.1), Stockport (16.5), Salford (18.1), Tameside (15.5), Bolton (14), Bury (12.1) and Wigan (6.7).
CORONAVIRUS R RATE COULD BE AS HIGH AS 1.1 IN THE NORTH WEST
The coronavirus reproduction rate could be as high as 1.1 in the North West of England, according to figures released yesterday — as separate data revealed infections have doubled in a week in locked-down parts of Greater Manchester.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimate the 'R' level has risen well above the danger zone in the North West, where 4.5million people were put under tough new lockdown measures last week because of a spike in cases.
The R - which represents the average number of people an infected Covid-19 patient passes the disease to - must stay below 1 or the virus will start to grow exponentially.
The data, compiled by the university's Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, suggests cases in the region could double in 56 days if the R rate is not squashed.
But the estimates are slightly out of date due to a lag in the way the reproduction rate is calculated, meaning they only go up to July 18. Any effect last week's lockdown might've had on the R value won't show up in the figures for several weeks.
Separate worrying figures published by Public Health England today show that infection rates increased in nine out of 10 boroughs in Manchester between July 22 and 29, two days before the new rules were introduced.
Rochdale was the only place where cases were not on the rise but infections have now also started to dip in Wigan and Bolton after a weekend of lockdown measures.
Oldham, the second worst affected borough in England, saw 148 cases over the week — taking its rate from 41.6 to 62.8 cases per 100,000 people. Rates in both the City of Manchester and Tameside have more than doubled in seven days.