Provide councils with vital data, say doctors

The British Medical Association has stressed that the government should provide vital data more quickly to local authorities to help them deal with coronavirus spikes in their areas.

The comments follow criticism about the length of time it took to get testing data to officials in Leicester, which, yesterday, became the first area to experience a local lockdown after a worrying rise in coronavirus cases.

Leicester's seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 people - three times that of the next highest city - but it took 11 days for the decision to extend the lockdown to be made.

Representing doctors in the UK, the BMA said that moving forward ministers need to be more open and transparent with coronavirus data and about how regional spikes in infections will be managed in the future. This is particularly pertinent as the government plans to further ease lockdown measures on 4 July, including the reopening of bars, restaurants and hair salons.

Doctors are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of a second wave of the virus, ‘heightened by local flare-ups’. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA council, said that providing local leaders with up-to-date information was ‘vital’ in containing outbreaks, particularly as a contact-tracing app is not yet in place.

He said: “The Prime Minister has talked about a 'whack a mole' strategy to tackle local outbreaks, but this is no use if the people leading the response on the ground - be they public health teams or local leaders - are not given the most accurate up-to-date data possible.”