The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the North West of the country now stands at 25,984 - a rise of 93 in the last 24 hours.

New figures from Public Health England published this evening (June 5) show the number of cases in areas managed by Lancashire County Council now stands at 3,685.

In Blackpool the number remains at 654 cases while in Blackburn with Darwen it rose 415.

The latest data for lower tier authorities in Lancashire also shows that 11 areas recorded new coronavirus cases since yesterday, with only three showing no change at all.

In the North West, there are 1,032 confirmed coronavirus cases in Bolton, 774 in Bury, 1,255 in Cheshire East, 1,169 in Cheshire West and Chester, 2,237 in Cumbria, 407 in Halton, 672 in Knowsley, 1,635 in Liverpool, 1,612 in Manchester, 1,095 in Oldham, 822 in Rochdale, 942 in Salford, 940 in Sefton, 752 in St Helens, 1,054 in Stockport, 761 in Tameside, 837 in Trafford, 780 in Warrington, 1,213 in Wigan, and 1,310 in Wirral.

Lockdown powers are in place if the coronavirus outbreak threatens to get out of control in the North West, a government minister has confirmed.

LancsLive reported earlier today that the crucial coronavirus 'R' infection number in the North West is now above 1, meaning the region has the highest rate in the country and leading to huge fears the virus could begin to spread more rapidly again.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus press briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted: "There is a challenge in the North West of England that we need to address."

When asked whether the relevant infrastructure was in place to crack down in local areas, Mr Hancock said "yes".

He said he had engaged with council leaders and metro mayors through the track and trace programme.

The latest analysis from scientists at Public Health England and Cambridge University shows the North West now running at 1.01, up from 0.73 a few weeks ago when the data was last released, and higher than anywhere else.

Meanwhile, the R rate in the South West is listed as exactly 1, although the researchers believe the number of new daily infections there is "relatively low".

The new figures released today also prompted the question of whether people in the North West should still exercise all of the new freedoms set out by the government this month.

Mr Hancock said: "I think everyone should exercise caution.

"In a way the discussion of the higher R in the North West and South West that's estimated compared to the rest of the country is an important part in terms of moving towards a more local approach."

He added: "That doesn't take away from the need to make sure we spot and crack down on localised outbreaks when they come."

Discussing the new study, Mr Hancock said it was "very important that you look at all of these studies" to get an "overall view."

He said: "The overall view of Sage [the government's scientific advice panel] is that the R is between 0.7 and 0.9. It is higher in the South West and North West England but it is still below 1."

Mr Hancock was also asked what a regional lockdown would actually look like.

He said it had been used to contain an outbreak in Weston-super-Mare.

Responding to the study which showed a higher R rate in the North West, a government spokesperson said: "These estimates are just one of a number that inform the scientists advising Government and do not represent the consensus view.

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