IS Cheshire West and Chester set to become a designated "Enhanced Response Area" due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases?

Speculation has gathered pace during the last 24 hours that Cheshire – specifically Cheshire West and Cheshire East – could be following Greater Manchester and Lancashire in receiving extra support to try and halt the rise of the Delta variant.

Compared to recent weeks, coronavirus levels have surged in the Winsford and Northwich areas whereas wards in Chester and Ellesmere Port remain relatively low.

While there has been a rise in cases across the county, that has not been replicated in the number of Covid hospital patient admissions.

Latest available data showed there were a total of 10 Covid patients being treated at the four Cheshire hospital trusts.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is not expecting any Covid-related announcements until Monday (June 14) when Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm whether the last remaining lockdown restrictions will be lifted a week later.

Ellesmere Port MP and shadow health minister Justin Madders has called for "urgent clarification" from the Government on whether Cheshire West and Chester will become an enhanced response area.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that a “strengthened package of support” would be provided for Greater Manchester and Lancashire – similar to that seen in Bolton – where case numbers remain high.

It means 5.7 million people are now under what mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham stressed was "not a lockdown" but "advice".

The help on offer for those designated as an enhanced response area includes military support with testing and supervised in-school testing, and greater communication with disadvantaged groups.

Local directors of public health will also be able to reintroduce face coverings in communal areas in schools if they want to.

As part of the government guidance, residents are encouraged to get tested twice a week, minimise travel, avoid meeting indoors. and continue to work from home if possible.

Earlier this week, the leaders of all four Cheshire councils wrote to the Government over concerns they will not have sufficient Covid vaccine supplies for younger members of the county's population.

They urged the Government to provide additional support on the vaccine supplies front, as has been supplied to other parts of the North West – notably in Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

Speaking on the issue, MP Justin Madders said: "There are significant issues with people being sent out of the area to receive their vaccine and as the best way of limiting the virus's spread is to ensure as many people are vaccinated as possible, it should be a priority for there to be greater local access for people who are not vaccinated to get their jabs."

The Standard has approached the Government for a response in relation to speculation over the borough becoming an enhanced response area.