THE Government must provide additional business support and boost vaccine supplies now Cheshire West and Chester has become an "Enhanced Response Area" due to the rising Covid infection rate.

That's the view of Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders, who says it's "entirely reasonable" for areas that have seen a surge in cases of the Delta variant receive priority on the supply of jabs.

It was announced yesterday that Cheshire West and Chester – along with Birmingham, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Liverpool City Region and Warrington – will be given more support for surge testing, tracing, isolation and maximising vaccine uptake.

The support package, which is the same as what was announced for Greater Manchester and Lancashire last week, is being provided due to a rise in the number of cases of the Delta variant in these areas, a Government spokesman said.

Mr Madders, who is Shadow Health Minister, told The Standard: "Now we are in enhanced measures there are two things the Government must do.

"Provide additional business support for those businesses that will now suffer a reduction in trade as a result of the advice not to mix indoors, and to boost vaccine supply so that as many people can have their jabs as quickly as possible.

"We have been told that they do not want to divert supply from other parts of the country but that is not what their own scientific advice says and it is entirely reasonable to ensure areas where there is a surge in cases get priority on supply as that is the best way to halt transmission of the virus.

"Unfortunately the Government's approach to this is half-baked and we risk not doing enough to halt the spread nor support those businesses affected.

"I will continue to work with the council to ensure we make the most of the vaccine supply we do have and to press the case for more."

With regards to the surge in cases of the Delta variant, Mr Madders added: "The Government should apologise for letting Covid cases rise again as this is entirely down to their failure to enforce proper quarantine measures for people arriving from India."

Pressed on this very issue, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told Times Radio: “We can always look back and wish that we’d done things differently but we operated on the basis of facts that we had at the time, and India was placed on the red list before the Delta variant was a … variant of concern.

“And again, you know, the decisions that ministers, that doctors, that scientists have to take can never be made with perfect knowledge.”

Several scientists have suggested the Delta variant would have made its way into the UK at some point regardless of stricter border policies.

Asked whether it would have made a difference if Britain had stopped people coming from India in early April, Professor Graham Medley, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Potentially – I mean it’s speculation.

“The newer Delta variant is now quite common around the globe so it would have ended up in the United Kingdom at some point, but perhaps it would have been delayed.

“It’s really the competition between the virus and the vaccine so, had the variant arrived in the country when we’d had more people vaccinated, then it may well not have grown in the same way that it has.”