Claim Bolton had lower Covid-19 rate than Dundee is Mostly True

Ferret Fact Service | Scotland's impartial fact check project

The Scottish Government announced at the end of last week that it was restricting travel between Scotland and the northern English cities of Manchester and Salford. The restrictions came into effect on Monday, June 21.

In the wake of the announcement Manchester mayor Andy Burnham accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of “hypocrisy”. He said the travel ban was “completely disproportionate” and announced “out of the blue”.

Burnham also said it was unfair for the Scottish Government to continue to ban travel between Scotland and Bolton, claiming on Monday that the English town’s Covid-19 infection rate is lower than that of Dundee.

In an interview with Sky News he said: “Today for instance, Bolton has a significantly lower case rate than Dundee; Bolton is under this travel ban, Dundee is not.”

Ferret Fact Service looked at the claim and found it Mostly True.

Evidence

In its announcement on 18 June the Scottish Government said the travel ban was being put in place “to prevent variants of concern being brought into Scotland from areas with high cases of Covid-19 Delta variant”.

At the same time, pre-existing restrictions on travel between Blackburn, Darwen and Bolton were maintained. Restrictions that were in place on Bedford and the Republic of Ireland were removed.

On Monday 21 June, Andy Burnham wrote a letter to Sturgeon asking her to “set out in detail” the criteria used “to determine the non-essential travel ban policy”. In the letter he noted that “on the latest Government figures, Bolton has a Covid-19 case rate of 269 per 100,000 and decreasing whilst Dundee has a rate of 318”. Burnham added that the figures were accurate as of June 15.

Figures published by the UK Government confirm that, as of June 15, the case rate in Bolton was 269 per 100,000. Similarly, the government website confirms that, on the same date, the rate in Dundee was 318.1 per 100,000. The figures are calculated on a rolling seven-day basis.

Both Public Health Scotland and the UK Government post daily updates detailing how many new Covid-19 infections have been recorded. As part of this they also present updated seven-day case rates.

On Wednesday, two days after Burnham made his claim, Public Health Scotland’s figures showed that on June 20 Dundee’s seven-day infection rate was 302 per 100,000. Due to the way numbers are collated that was the most up-to-date figure available. 

According to the most recent numbers published by the UK Government, Bolton’s infection rate was 254.9 per 100,000 in the seven days to June 18. During that period, Dundee’s infection rate was 304.7.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Mostly True

Official figures published by Public Health Scotland and the UK Government show that Burnham was correct to say that Dundee has a higher Covid-19 infection rate than Bolton. The figures the mayor of Manchester was referring to on Monday did not relate to the infection rates on that day but they were the most recently available at that time. Updated figures show that Dundee still has a higher infection rate than Bolton.

Mostly True

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Go to ideas.theferret.scot, email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

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