Leicester could be first to face local lockdown

Leicester could be the first place in England to face local lockdown measures after a rise in coronavirus cases in the city.

It has been reported that 650 people were found to have had the illness in the first two weeks of June, a quarter of all cases in the city so far.

There have been outbreaks at food production facilities and five schools have closed. Leading to the Department of Health and Social Care to deploy four mobile testing units to the city and make thousands of home testing kits available.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show said that the decision could be made, pointing to the work of the joint biosecurity centre, which, she said, ‘is very much geared up and is being developed to address local flare-ups’.

She said: “With local flare-ups it’s right that we have a localised solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing and many of the tools actually within the Public Health England space that will come together to control the virus and stop the spread.”

Keith Neal, a professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, said the messaging on local measures needed to be very clear, stressing that the people ‘inside of the lockdown need to understand why they have been included’, as well as the exact geographical boundaries if there is to be a distinction between a specific city and region.

Neal said: “Urban sprawl has allowed towns and cities to expand resulting in these areas often joining other areas who identify differently and do not see themselves as part of the expanding town or city. Locking down at the regional level would be seen as unfair or worse as Leicester city has really very little to do with rural Lincolnshire. People do not identify with their regional boundaries and many would not actually know where they are.”

Speaking on 28 June, Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby sais there had been no discussion with the government about the need for a local lockdown in the city, and data received just three days before needed to be properly analysed before any further actions can be agreed.