WEST Lancashire will receive more support from the government to help curb a rise in case numbers of the Delta or Indian variant of Covid-19 with people urged to take more tests and minimise travel.
The new measures include stepping up Covid vaccinations and testing capabilities, as well as military support and supervised in-school testing in the areas hardest hit.
People have also been advised to minimise travel in and out of the area and avoid meeting indoors.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has questioned why the borough has been included in a new Covid-19 support package when Blackpool has been left out, despite having “three times higher rates.”
The MP said: “As Covid-19 figures in Lancashire have increased rapidly, the Government have announced areas of enhanced provision which will be offered extra support and guidance.
“There is local anger that West Lancashire has been included when Blackpool with three times higher rates have not!
“It makes it harder to get public support when on the face of it, it is unclear why one area with higher figures is subject to or included in the enhanced provisions area.
“This suggests that protecting the economy in some places is more valued than others.
“I understand the need for caution, but the Government should not be taking a pick and mix approach to Covid statistics.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a “strengthened package of support” will be issued to all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester as well as places within the Lancashire County Council area including West Lancashire.
The other areas Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, and Wyre.
Latest government figures showed that 17 of the top 20 areas with the highest infection rates in England in the week leading up to June 3 were in Greater Manchester or Lancashire.
As part of the government guidance, residents are also being encouraged to get tested twice a week and continue to work from home if possible.
Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire have been identified as places where the so-called Indian variant, now named the Delta variant by the World Health Organization, is spreading the fastest.
Matt Hancock said: “We know that this approach can work, we've seen it work in south London and in Bolton in stopping a rise in the number of cases.
“This is the next stage of tackling the pandemic in Manchester and in Lancashire, and of course it's vital that people in these areas - as everywhere else - come forward and get the jab as soon as they're eligible because that is our way out of this pandemic together.”
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “Cases of Covid-19 are continuing to rise at a worrying pace in parts of Lancashire.
“While the east of the county has seen the highest volume of infection, we are seeing cases rise rapidly in other parts.
“Over the past three weeks, additional surge testing and vaccinations has been undertaken in Burnley, and we have been pushing for this to be rolled out across the county.
“The Government has listened to our calls and has now agreed to provide Lancashire with enhanced support, which gives us more flexibility to fight this new wave of infections.
“As such, asymptomatic PCR testing will be opened up to everyone in Lancashire. Improving vaccination uptake is also going to be a crucial element in our efforts to contain this latest wave.
“As well as securing first doses for those who have not had one, it is also vital that we get people fully vaccinated with two doses, as this will offer maximum protection against the Delta variant.
“Anyone who is over 18, subject to eligibility, can book their jab now over the coming weeks we will be offering the vaccine in more convenient locations.
“Some of these will be walk-in and people will be encouraged to pop along and discuss their eligibility if they are unsure.
“Make sure you keep an eye on your district council's websites and social media accounts for more information. You can also book on the national booking system online or via 119 if you are eligible.
“It is important that people continue to follow the guidance on hands, face, space and fresh air. If we do this, along with testing and vaccinations, then we can start to turn things around and avoid any local restrictions being put in place.”