Thursday, 2 Jul 2020

Matt Hancock admits multiple COVID-19 spikes across UK needed intervention

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Matt Hancock announced that coronavirus outbreaks in Keighley, Weston-super-Mare and Enfield have needed Government intervention during the lockdown to bring its cases right down. But Leicester struggled to deflate the confirmed cases of COVID-19 when measures were put it place, according to the Health Secretary. The city has since been ordered to stay in lockdown for a further two weeks as the rest of England begins lifting further social distancing restrictions.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Hancock said: “I first set out at the Downing Street press conference that there was a local problem in Leicester last Friday.

“At the same time there was also a local problem in Keighley in the same way that we had tackled local problems in Weston-super-Mare, in Enfield and some other places.

“Whilst working in Keighley, we managed to get that spike under control with the sorts of local measures we put in; extra testing and working with factories where there was a particular outbreak.

“In Leicester we were doing all that and we’ve been working on it for that time but it was clear that this outbreak was not being brought under control by those actions.

“Hence we took this action yesterday.”

Mr Hancock said the law will be changed in the next “day or two” to close all non-essential shops in Leicester.

He told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that the Government was not making non-essential travel illegal, but said it would if it had to.

The minsiter added: “On shops, the non-essential retail, we will be closing them by law and changing the law in the next day or two to put that into effect.

“We are also not releasing the legal measures that lift the lockdown for the rest of the country.

“On travel, we are recommending against travel unless it is essential but we are not putting that in place in law at this stage.

“Of course we will if we have to.”

Leicester’s seven-day infection rate was 135 cases per 100,000 – three times that of the next highest city.

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While the exact area impacted is not expected to be made clear until later on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said Leicester and the surrounding conurbation including Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield would be included.

Local authority boundaries will complicate deciding which areas to include in the heightened restrictions, with parts of Oadby to Leicester’s south east and Birstall to the city’s north overseen by Leicestershire County Council.

Harborough, Oadby and Wigston MP Neil O’Brien tweeted the measures would “apply in outer parts of Leicester too – including all of my constituents in Oadby, Wigston and South Wigston”, but that Great Glen, a village two miles south of Oadby, was not included.

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa said the delay on clarification on restrictions was “frustrating”.

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