Three of England's biggest cities facing imminent lockdown as cases rise
Three of England’s biggest cities are teetering on the edge of lockdown after the number of coronavirus cases spiralled rapidly.
Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool have all recorded notable week-on-week jumps in infection rates, with local leaders warning new restrictions could be imminent.
The biggest spike was in Birmingham, where 712 people caught the virus in the seven days up to Saturday.
Official data shows there were more than 60 cases per 100,000 residents in the week to September 4, compared with 28.1 the week before.
The majority of cases are among people aged between 20 and 39, with private indoor gatherings at home seen as the biggest cause of transmission.
When Birmingham was placed into the ‘enhanced support’ category of Public Health England’s watchlist in August, the city council’s leader Ian Ward said it was a ‘wake-up call’.
Despite tough warnings, more testing and a crackdown on retail and hospitality venues breaching social distancing rules, cases have continued to rocket.
Local leaders are in discussions to work out a way forward, with a ban on households mixing being considered as one option.
Birmingham’s director of public health, Dr Justin Varney, told BBC News: ‘If you look at what has happened to other areas that have had increasing rates like we have, then we may well see restrictions around household mixing because that does seem to be what is driving it here.
‘But those decisions are still to be made and there is a lot of analysis going on and conversations between the council, Public Health England and government to look at what is the most appropriate set of next steps to take to keep our city safe.’
In Leeds, residents were also warned they face restrictions on movement due to a rise in new cases driven by young people.
In the past week, the infection rate has risen from 29.6 per 100,000 to 47.9 per 100,000.
A surge of coronavirus cases has been pinned on house parties, illegal raves and other unlicensed music events.
The city was placed on Public Health England’s weekly watch list on Friday, but a day later pictures showed the city centre bustling with young people failing to stick to social distancing after they went out partying.
Council leader Judith Blake urged youngsters to ‘recognise their own responsibility’ in controlling the spread of the disease.
She said: ‘We feel there is a bit of a complacency coming in. What we are seeing is the numbers are changing, and actually more young people are testing positive and they are spread around the city.
‘So whereas we were focusing more on specific communities at the beginning, it is now clear the pattern is changing.’
People living in parts of North-West England have already faced a month-long ban on mixing indoors after a rise in infections was blamed on households failing to stick to social distancing when mixing with friends and family.
Only two of the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester have seen restrictions relax substantially, with cases continuing to rise.
Liverpool could be the next city in the region to face a crack down, after cases rose from 14.9 per 100,000 to 35.7 per 100,000 in the past week.
As many as 200 pupils are now having to self-isolate after positive covid cases were traced to eight of the city’s schools.
Mayor Joe Anderson has called on communities to better protect each other and said too many people are ignoring the rules, particularly around wearing face masks.
He told the Liverpool Echo: ‘We are hearing countless examples of shops in the city full of people not wearing face coverings.
‘I think all shops in the city have a responsibility to make sure their customers are wearing a mask – apart from the small few exceptions.
‘I think its really important that shops and businesses take that responsibility and make sure these rules are enforced.’
This comes after it was reported the government could reduce the number of people allowed to mix indoors.
Gatherings of more than 30 are currently banned but this could be reduced to just six to control the spread of infections.
It is not clear if this would be applied nationwide or only to areas considered at risk of an outbreak.
Scientists and politicians have ramped up calls to stick to social distancing and follow covid guidelines amid fears of a second wave.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said on Monday that people have ‘relaxed too much’ over the summer and need to start taking coronavirus ‘very seriously’ again or the UK will face a ‘bumpy ride’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Source: Read Full Article