PUBLIC health messaging has been ‘weakened’ by the way the government has handled the Dominic Cummings controversy, according to Andy Burnham.

With 349 new Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions rising in Greater Manchester, the region’s mayor says there should be ‘no loss of focus’ in tackling the virus.

Mr Burnham urged the government to take action and regain the public’s trust but stopped short of joining calls for Mr Cummings to resign after travelling 264 miles during lockdown.

Speaking at a press conference on Greater Manchester’s response to coronavirus, the mayor said: “The current political climate is undermining the strength of the government’s public health message, and the potential enforceability issues that arise from that.

“There’s also the loss of focus on things like testing and contact tracing which are still not in the right place.”

“Cases may be down in Greater Manchester but the fact that we had almost 350 new cases last week, and early signs of rising hospital admissions, shows there can be no no loss of focus in the fight against the virus.

“If we carry on in a world of Westminster politicking we’re going to get ourselves in the wrong position.

“Action needs to be taken to restore public trust and for a line to be drawn.”

When asked if Mr Cummings should be forced to stand down, Mr Burnham said he had joined other city-region mayors in staying out of the situation.

The special adviser’s actions were described by Mr Burnham as a Wesminister issue which had nevertheless impacted on ‘the real world’.

“I’ve tried to focus on issues in the real world and the things we need to get a grip on the situation,” he added.

“It’s for others to enter ‘who said what to who’ but what I can say is there is a real impact in our right against the virus and that can’t continue.”