A leading Blackburn councillor has called for people not to get complacent over coronavirus safety measures and also spoke out against those ‘sharing misinformation’ over the vaccine.

Councillor Shaukat Hussain who represents the Bastwell ward, which has had some of the highest rates of infections since the pandemic began, urged people across the borough to remain vigilant this month.

According to the most recent figures Bastwell had 25 new cases. Audley reported the highest percentage hike, with 27 new cases meaning the number of new infections in the seven days up to December 28 was up 170 per cent on the previous seven-day period.

Cllr Hussain said: “The new strain of Covid-19 spreads more quickly amongst people resulting in more people testing positive. Hospitals are starting to get overwhelmed and death rates are increasing.

“There is a real risk of a third wave of Covid-19. I’m asking residents to be even more vigilant and not get complacent.

“I understand people are becoming frustrated and some wards have been in extra restrictions than most but it is important we abide by the Tier 4 restrictions which means no socialising indoors or in a private garden with anyone who is not in your household or support bubble.”

The Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) next door to the Kebabish Restaurant based in Cllr Hussain’s ward had recently helped to facilitate the SMART Testing Programme in Blackburn. This was a walk-through facility, where you did not need to register and participants received their results within 30 minutes.

Cllr Hussain said: “These restrictions have been going on for a long time and as rules change almost on a weekly basis people have tended to become more relaxed.

“Over the holidays there were quite a number of deaths across Blackburn and Darwen from coronavirus. I have had some bereavements in my own family and it remains important for us all to continue to do as much as we can to protect the vulnerable.

“As we head into January and February we need to buck up. We can defeat this pandemic but we can only do this together.”

Cllr Hussain also urged those sharing misinformation about the vaccine to be aware of the consequences of their actions.

He said: “I am also having to talk to people in the community about the vaccine and reassure them if you get the opportunity to get it done.

“Some of the elders in the Asian community tend to be afraid of unfounded claims over the vaccine and they are getting these from others in their family. You hear these weird stories and some of the things being shared are completely untrue.”

“Nobody wants to share the positive news and are happy to share points without facts.”