THE majority of Trafford’s care homes are currently experiencing Covid outbreaks, according to public health leaders, as hospital admissions for the virus across Greater Manchester doubled in just two weeks.

Two high schools and seven primary schools across Trafford are also dealing with outbreaks, although experts said this situation changes daily.

Staff absences, either through sickness or childcare responsibilities, have had a ‘huge impact’ across the borough lately.

A total of 82 members of Trafford school staff were reported as absent on Monday, January 10.

Infection control teams are said to be working closely to support care settings and schools to help manage the situation.

Public health bosses said they are ‘clinging on to the green shoots’ that have started to appear with regards to Covid rates in the borough, after a very slight decline was seen over the last seven days.

Case rates soared across Trafford and nationally after Christmas. For the week ending Friday, January 7, Trafford’s infection rate stood at 1,960 per 100,000 population, after 4,658 residents tested positive that week.

Compared to the previous week, this represents a very small drop in the borough’s rate.

Helen Gollins, acting Director for Public Health, gave an update to the council at a pandemic scrutiny meeting.

She said: “We’re in quite a different position from where we were before Christmas. Our rates are now significantly higher, as are the national rates.

“Compared to the seven days previously, actually, our rates have dropped a very small amount. So these are the bits of green shoots that we’re clinging on to at the moment in public health. Our rates are starting to look like they’re stabilising and are very, very slowly, by a marginal amount, going down, which is a positive I think for us in Trafford.

“But we still have to be mindful that there might be a number of reasons behind that; which might include people’s access or perceived access to testing, which may have reduced the number of people coming forward.”

Trafford had the highest Covid infection rate in Greater Manchester for a long time before Christmas, but it now sits ninth.

Trafford’s infection rates are currently highest in its 0-44 age group, but an increase is beginning to be seen in the borough’s over-45s.

The over-60s infection rate currently stands at 1,267 per 100,000 people, which Ms Gollins labelled “a significant increase from where we were in December.”

The impact on Trafford’s schools of this latest wave is also anticipated to be significant.

She added: “We may see real, significant disruption to our schools and to our young people through infection. But there’s also the thought that a lot of our young people have acquired immunity through recent infection and vaccinations, so we may not see the numbers that we are expecting.

“At the moment, it’s very much a watch and wait [situation], but our education and outreach team are ready poised to support schools in whichever way they can.”

The borough’s highest infection rates are currently in the West; Davyhulme East, Timperley, Flixton and Davyhulme West make up the top four areas.

But Stretford, Bucklow St Martins and Gorse Hill have rates that are equally as high and Ms Gollins explained public health teams are most worried about the health and social impacts of Covid due to lower vaccination uptake rates.

And Ms Gollins said the latest wave is having a ‘significant impact’ on the borough’s acute health trusts.

In the two weeks up to Sunday, January 2, there were 528 Covid-related admissions to all hospitals across Greater Manchester, a doubling compared to the previous fortnight, on top of hospital admissions usually seen at this time of year, adding to existing pressures.

Ms Gollins said: “The hospitals at the moment are in significant escalation, but the Greater Manchester system is working really well to address those issues.”

She added the number of people in hospital with Covid requiring mechanical ventilation is currently stable, so while admissions are rising, hospitals aren’t seeing as many seriously ill individuals as they did previously and Omicron is proving to be a less severe strain.

The number of deaths as a result of Covid across Trafford also remains very low, which Ms Gollins said was ‘very reassuring’, but she urged caution as deaths from a spike in case rates can often happen between three and four weeks after the peak.

Ms Gollins said: “The message from our team is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. If you’ve not had your booster, please go and have your booster. If you’ve not had your first and second, just please go for your first and second. It’s really, really important and the evidence is really strong in terms of protection, not just for you, but for your family and friends and communities. Keep following Covid measures.”