THIS week Bury was placed in Tier 2 of the Government’s Covid alert system in response to an increase in coronavirus cases.

To judge whether this was necessary politicians must take a view on the data provided by clinicians and public health experts.

There has been a significant increase in Covid-19 cases with 91 recorded w/e September 3 to 652 w/e October 8. This is concerning but to understand the public health consequences we must take a rounded view.

Every politician is committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, but the pandemic is having a huge impact on business, mental health and our relationships.

The infection spike is being driven by younger people. This is hardly surprising with university students returning. We know this cohort is unlikely to suffer any long-term health impacts. This applies to schools where we have seen children asked to isolate due to positive cases.

But evidence shows, thankfully, children are unlikely to suffer long-term health impacts. Increases in new cases among the young is not welcomed but is only significant in their potential to infect others more vulnerable to the virus.

As of October 8, there were 25 Covid patients at Fairfield and 46 at North Manchester hospitals. Thankfully only eight of those were in ITU beds. I have not been provided with ages or potential underlying health conditions of these patients. But politicians need this information to make informed choices.

Data on excess deaths also raises questions. Between June 12 and September 25 the excess mortality rate in Bury shows 26 less deaths than the norm for 2015-2019.

The impact restrictions are having on mental health, non-Covid clinical services, and local businesses concerns me. We cannot prioritise Covid to the extent residents are not being properly treated for cancer and other conditions. We risk health consequences in these areas being worse than those coronavirus has created.

Scientific advisers suggest hospitality venues should face onerous restrictions. But this ignores evidence of negligible transmission rates. And we have not had a single outbreak recorded at a pub locally.

We all must abide by current guidance to reduce case numbers but should recognise individuals should also accept responsibility for their own health. We have a responsibility as a community to abide by the rules to protect each other.

But I believe there has to be an incredibly good reason to take away the freedom to act in a way which does not harm someone else but allows all of us the opportunity to stay in direct contact with our loved ones.

We don’t have a guarantee of a vaccine in the short term, we need as a society to find a way to live with Covid-19 without closing our economy or creating barriers to those relationships that make life worth living.