TRAFFORD'S health bosses have said they are working to ensure residents can have ‘as close to a normal Christmas as possible’, despite Covid rules in schools and care homes.

Current measures, including face masks for secondary school pupils and staff and for primary school staff and parents, and restrictions on indoor care home visits from under-16s, are set to continue until they are next reviewed at the end of November.

Visits from under-16s can happen outdoors, socially distanced or in end of life circumstances.

Now health bosses were keen to emphasise they are aware of the approaching festive period.

Helen Gollins, acting director for public health in Trafford, said: “We are very much taking into account that we are heading into the Christmas period and that grandparents and aunties and uncles will be very keen to see their relatives during this period.

“Our care home commissioners and infection control teams will be working with care homes to ensure that families can have as close to a normal Christmas as possible that is safe.”

The borough’s current Covid infection rate stands at 378 cases per 100,000 population, for the week ending November 12.

Ms Gollins said: “It’s looking like it’s plateauing, but Trafford remains near the top for Greater Manchester.

“However what we are reassured by is that our rates for our over 60s are still low and are declining.”

The borough’s infection rate for its over-60s is 174 per 100,000 people – last week it stood at 216.

Ms Gollins added: “For our over 75s in particular our rate is very low. I think that’s a really good reflection of all of the hard work that’s going on across Trafford and across our care system to protect our vulnerable, elderly people.”

Trafford’s testing rate is currently going down, but is still the highest testing rate in Greater Manchester and the borough sits fourth highest in terms of infection rates across the city region.

Ms Gollins explained, however, there is not much separating the four leading boroughs from one another at the moment.

In terms of the spread of the virus across the borough, Ms Gollins explained infection is being seen across the borough, but Hale Central is currently the ward with the highest rate across Trafford, followed by Stretford.

She added: “They’re both very different demographics and very different geographies. So there’s spread across the different localities.”

Urmston follows soon after, then Timperley has the next highest infection rate after that.

The age group with the highest infection rate in the borough is currently Trafford’s 30 to 44-year-olds, followed by its 0 to 14-year-olds.

Ms Gollins explained the initial feeling is that those 30 to 44-year-olds will likely be the parents of the initial cohort of 0 to 14-year-olds that were infected a few weeks ago and are also more likely to be out and about working and having more contact with other people.

In terms of rates by ethnicity, the borough’s highest infection rates are currently being seen in its Asian and British Asian groups.

While the borough’s death numbers have fortunately decreased in recent weeks, that decrease has only been slight.

Ms Gollins said: “We have, fortunately, a very small number of people that have passed away due to Covid in Trafford, and they have declined to very small numbers. But there are still people who are dying from Covid in Trafford.

“Equally hospital activity is an area of concern, we heard from our colleagues last week about the pressures that are building for our NHS system and that’s equally due to Covid, people being admitted for Covid, but also the other issues that a pandemic brings – the general ill health and population need.”

A total of 80 per cent of Trafford’s overall population have now had at least one vaccination and 74 per cent have had two.

For 12 to 15-year-olds, 34 per cent of those on Trafford’s school rolls have now had their first dose of a vaccine.

Vaccines are currently being offered through schools and parents are also able to take their children out of school in order to have them vaccinated.

The lowest vaccination rates across the borough are in the under-40s age-group.

There are currently 35 Trafford primary schools and 13 secondary schools that have Covid cases in them, across different year groups.

No secondary schools have reached the outbreak threshold, but four primary schools are classed as suffering from an outbreak at the moment – that means either 10 per cent of their pupils have Covid or there are at least five cases in one classroom.