Young people and schools are not responsible for the recent rise in coronavirus cases in Halton, councillors have heard.

Covid-19 cases in Halton have soared since the beginning of September, rising from 10 cases per 100,000 residents to more than 200 in what was previously the Liverpool city region’s least-hit borough.

But unlike other areas, most of the initial rise was not seen in young people.

Sarah Johnson-Griffiths, from the borough’s public health team, told Halton Council’s health policy and performance board last night that it was middle-aged people who had reported most of the new cases.

She said: “Locally, we don’t have a high proportion of young people. We’ve seen the majority of our cases in middle-aged working people, there was quite a peak in middle-aged men.

“Now we’re starting to see the cases spread out across the age groups, but we haven’t got a significant increase in the number of young people.

“It isn’t the young people that are fuelling our rates at the moment.”

Ms Johnson-Griffiths also said the rise in cases had come earlier than expected, and too early to have been caused by the reopening of schools for the new academic year.

She said: “I think the opening up in August, the encouragement to eat out, the encouragement of mixing, people going back on public transport – unfortunately it facilitated the virus being spread rapidly.”

The latest figures show Halton’s infection rate reached 225 cases per 100,000 residents last Thursday, an increase of more than 50% on the previous week and the third highest rate in the Liverpool City Region.

In her presentation, Ms Johnson-Griffiths said these cases were now also translating into increased hospital admissions, with 23 patients in Whiston Hospital and 28 patients in Warrington Hospital on Friday morning.

However, she added, this was “not translating into huge numbers in ITU”, with only seven patients requiring ventilation across the two hospitals. Each hospital also saw one death last week.