Blackburn with Darwen public health director Dominic Harrison writes his weekly coronavirus column for the Lancashire Telegraph...

THE chief medical officer has warned us this week that if we continue at national level with the same Covid-19 control measures that we have had in place over the summer, we could get 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October and 200 deaths a day by mid-November.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson subsequently announced a raft of new control measures - which are in effect a partial national social lockdown.

These measures mirror, but are substantially less than, those already in place in parts of East Lancashire including Blackburn with Darwen.

These national measures are unlikely to effectively control the rising national rates and it is likely we will need to see a strengthening of them within a few weeks as national rates rise.

In the UK, the national confirmed case rate of COVID-19 has risen from about 14 per 100,000 of the population in early August to 34.4 for the week ending September 16.

In that week, nine out of ten of the highest rate local authorities were in the North-West Region including some from East Lancashire and the bordering local authorities of Bolton and Bury.

The UK is not alone in this rapidly rising trend in Covid-19 cases. On September 20 France had a rate of 185 per 100,000 and Spain is at 300 per 100,000.

We have evidence of what is likely to happen over the winter from Australia. As we have our summer Australia has its winter. Australia had a first peak at around the same time as the UK, but had a larger second wave between June 16 and September 18.

For the UK, we should expect a significant second-wave. Improvements in treatment and care since the first wave in the spring are likely to mean that fewer people will die as a percentage of those infected – but we can expect a similar rate of hospitalisation.

From our experience to date we can predict that Pennine Lancashire (and East Lancashire Hospitals Trust) will be amongst the most challenged areas of the country.

This is going to make it even more important that we all stick to the special measures we have in place on social mixing, wash our hands, maintain social distancing and wear a mask in all enclosed public space.

Since the local special measures in East Lancashire, in common with the rest of the country the overall rates have risen but the special measures in place have had a positive effect.

Blackburn with Darwen has fallen in the national Covid-19 league table from 3rd highest English Local Authority in August to 14th highest this week.