HEALTH bosses have come under fire for ‘tarring Darwen with the same brush as Blackburn’ over the rising numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases.

With the likelihood of a local lockdown similar to the one imposed in Leicester a possibility for the borough, residents in Darwen are demanding the publication of individual figures, to better reflect the difference in confirmed cases for each town.

Professor Dominic Harrison, the council’s Public Health boss, said the borough of Blackburn with Darwen had 114 new cases in the last two weeks, with 97 of those being from south Asian ‘household clusters’.

Cllr John Slater, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Conservative group, said: “The question I would ask is whether the statistics should be for Blackburn with Darwen or whether the situation in Darwen is the same case as Blackburn. Should we be looking at the figures for local areas?

“I wonder whether we should be looking at these measures for the whole borough or drilling them down to individual local areas like Darwen. I suspect the latter is the case.”

But executive member for public health and wellbeing at Blackburn with Darwen council, Damian Talbot, disagrees.

He said all the decisions taken so far have been about avoiding a local lockdown so as not to be in a position like Leicester, but he also stressed the actions taken were based around the borough working together.

He said: “As towns, Blackburn and Darwen have a very close relationship. People who live in Darwen work in Blackburn, they shop in Blackburn; they are very close.

“I am not convinced in saying one ward should be locked down and one should not.”

Darrener Gav Scott said the people in his town are worried Darwen will be forced into a local lockdown along with Blackburn because it is part of the same local authority, and wants the figures split.

He said: “Many people in Darwen are saying they don’t know anybody who has coronavirus, but in the news it always says ‘Blackburn with Darwen’ because we’re part of the same local authority.

“I’m going on holiday to Cornwall this summer, the site we are staying at has told us they can’t accept people from Leicester because they are on lockdown. If the news keeps saying it’s ‘Blackburn with Darwen’, our holiday will be cancelled because Darwen is potentially just getting tarred with Blackburn’s brush.

“We need to find out the numbers for Darwen’s coronavirus cases and separate them from Blackburn’s.”

Over on Facebook, Sarah Singleton said: “So if the borough does go into lockdown, Darwen have to suffer by Blackburn’s mistakes?”

Suzanne Halliwell, also from Darwen said: "The council needs to be careful about us all being out into the same position if it wants to avoid unnecessary job losses.

"We’ve already had four months of lockdown, to close businesses because the data isn’t there to back it up would be extremely reckless with people's futures.

"I employ ten women. This is theirs and my livelihoods we are talking about.

"They need to stop the sensitivity over race, and be clear the data backs up decision making because we will be asking to see it.

"The director of public health was very clear on Radio Five Live yesterday - they know where these cases are and are providing additional advice to businesses in those areas.

"If I don’t need the additional advice, why would I need to close down if they imposed local lockdown?

"And no-one is stigmatising anyone here. It's recognising that communities live differently.

"We can't be sensitive over race on this. Asian families live together, they take care of each other and spend lots of time in each others company.

"It's lovely and the reason you see older people and those in need cared for in loving family environments.

"But it is sadly now causing this dreadful pandemic to spread in those households and communities quicker than others.

"This is not a race issue, it's an issue about difference in lifestyles and home environments and sadly also means additional steps may need to be taken.

"No one should be stigmatised for caring for their family."

Blackburn with Darwen is third on the list of highest weekly rates, behind Leicester, which has a rate of 118.2 cases per 100,000 and is subject to a local lockdown, and nearby Pendle, with a rate of 76.6.