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Coronavirus: Leicester COVID-19 cases under scrutiny amid fears of local lockdown | UK News



Leicester’s mayor and government officials will meet to discuss coronavirus testing data amid suggestions a lockdown could be imposed on the city.

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and the council’s director of public health Ivan Browne will be present at the meeting to examine the data behind a local surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

Sir Peter said the council was only provided with detailed testing information for the first time on Thursday – a week after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced there was a local outbreak in the city.

It comes as restrictions are being eased elsewhere in the UK, with parks and shops with outdoor entrances able to reopen in Scotland, and schools in Wales welcoming more pupils.

According to Public Health England data, almost 3,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the pandemic.

Of these, 866 cases were reported in the last two weeks.

The rise in cases was linked to reports that Leicester could be made subject to Britain’s first local lockdown, a potential move Home Secretary Priti Patel appeared to confirm over the weekend.

When asked on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show whether the city was going to see new restrictions imposed, Ms Patel said: “Well, that is correct.

“We have seen flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular.”

BOUNEMOUTH,ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Members of the public enjoy the sunshine on Bournemouth Beach on June 24,2020 in Bournemouth,England.The UK is experiencing a summer heatwave, with temperatures in many parts of the country expected to rise above 30C and weather warnings in place for thunderstorms at the end of the week. (Photo by Chris Gorman/Getty Images)

PM warns against taking lockdown ‘liberties’

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Sunday that Leicester was an area of concern and urged residents to be vigilant against the virus.

It stopped short of saying a local lockdown was likely, but The Sunday Times reported that the health secretary had been examining legal aspects of the shutdown following a rise in cases.

Sir Peter later insisted more testing data was needed before deciding whether to implement a local lockdown in Leicester.

He argued the information was “key to determining what intervention is needed” to respond to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“If it is decided that a local lockdown is needed the city council currently has no powers to implement this, and there would need to be extensive discussion around the area to be locked down, including whether this extends beyond the city boundaries,” he said.

Former government chief scientific officer Sir Mark Walport told Sky News it would be necessary to “clamp down” as clusters begin to reappear.

He said: “The… thing that is becoming clear now is that when outbreaks occur, they typically occur in clusters and we’re seeing certain work environments, for example food-processing factories, as being fairly common places for those clusters to arise.

“In Korea for example, they found that places of worship were places that clusters have arisen and the common denominator being indoors, being crowded, being there for prolonged periods of time and noisy environments where people are coughing and shouting and so there is more droplet transmission.

“And so, again, it comes back to local control being really important to identify those clusters when they happen and clamp down on them quickly.”

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The DHSC said 43,550 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday, up by 36 from the day before.

The government figures do not include all deaths involving COVID-19 across the UK, which are thought to have passed 54,000.

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