The home secretary has confirmed that Leicester could be the first city to go into a local lockdown, over reports of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
There have been rumours that Leicester might be pushed back into tighter restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
These have not been confirmed by the Government, although some national journalists appear to have been briefed by ministers on the possibility if infection rates locally do not start to fall.
Priti Patel, when asked on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show whether the city was going to see new restrictions imposed, 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.”
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 Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been examining legal aspects of the shutdown following a rise in cases.
About 25% of Leicester’s 2,494 confirmed Covid-19 cases were reported in the two weeks before 16 June.
There have been reports that the Leicester area had 658 new cases in the two weeks to 16 June.
Public Health England, however, says there have been 50 cases reported in the city in the 10 days to 26 June, taking the total to 1,046 since the start of the pandemic, but that figure does not include the results of tests which are carried out by what PHE calls commercial partners.
Leicester City Council’s public health director said on 16 June the new cases – 658 – were “relatively small” but of concern.
Local health experts confirmed they were involved in planning the next steps in tackling the virus, with attention focussed on the North Evington area.
Leicester South MP and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC’s The World This Weekend he felt there was “no suggestion” a lockdown was about to happen.
“I received a briefing from the health secretary yesterday and yes, we have a spike in infections in Leicester and yes, we have to respond to that with extra testing capacity and extra support for the local authority,” he said.
“But nobody is proposing a local lockdown in the way in which it appears to have been presented in some of the media today and me and Matt Hancock were at one with that.”
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