Eight places at risk of local lockdown ‘within month’ as infection figures soar
More areas could face being put in lockdown after a government blunder revealed an alarming surge in new coronavirus infections.
On Sunday officials were forced to admit that nearly 16,000 had been left out of daily figures – meaning rates in some towns and cities have skyrocketed.
A handful of places which are worst affected are not currently living under local lockdown rules.
These include Nottingham, which now has the sixth highest infection rate in England, and Sheffield, which is 14th.
Exeter, in the South West, has also been propelled into the top 20, with its rate jumping from 56.3 per 100,000 people to 262.5 in just seven days.
Sunderland and Bury, which have additional lockdown rules, have rates of 254.6 and 253.4 respectively.
Manchester, with 529.4 cases per 100,000, is England’s worst hotspot, followed by Knowsley and Liverpool.
Eight areas which data suggests could be at risk of lockdowns include:
Oxford is also reportedly on the government’s radar after a sharp increase in people testing positive for Covid-19.
Parts of Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire also now have rates of more than 100, raising questions about whether new measures will be brought in.
Two areas can have similar infection rates per 100,000 but one can be hit with tough new curbs – including a local lockdown – whereas the other might only be subject to national restrictions.
This is because public health officials take into account a range of data – not just the infection rate.
They study the “R” virus reproduction rate and whether it is rising or falling locally.
Latest Public Health England data shows new infections increased by six times in Nottingham in just a week, with 1,273 confirmed cases in the seven days to Friday.
Alison Challenger, the city’s Director of Public Health, has described the current situation as “very worrying” after a “significant” rise in coronavirus cases.
Yesterday it was confirmed that 425 students and eight staff members at the University of Nottingham have tested positive for the virus.
In Sheffield, the infection rate rose from 100.9 cases per 100,000 to 286.6 in the same period.
Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, told BBC Radio Sheffield this morning: “My sense is it’s a matter of time and it’s a matter of when, not if.
“I couldn’t judge when but I sense we’ll be in the space that other councils have had an imposed lockdown over the next month. I would be surprised if we last that long.”
Oxford saw its infection rate soar from 53.1 to 99.0, latest data shows.
Other areas of Nottinghamshire will also be of concern, with Broxtowe, seeing its infection rate double, while nearby Gedling’s rate quadrupled to 106.0 per 100,000.
Walsall and Stafford, both in Staffordshire, also have rates of more than 100.
Asked whether there were any discussions around a ‘local lockdown’ for Exeter, a Devon County Council spokesman told Devon Live earlier this week: “A decision of a magnitude of a city-wide lockdown would be made at a national level.
“At the moment, case numbers are not there.”
Across the UK, around 17 million people – 25.4% of the population – are living under restrictions stricter than the national rules.
Since Saturday, people in the Liverpool region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough were banned from meeting people they don’t live with indoors or in their gardens.
Leaked documents claim ministers grappling with rising coronavirus infection rates are weighing up new ‘three-tier’ restrictions to tackle confusion.
Under the proposed traffic light system, all areas in England would be assigned a colour, with toughest restrictions in ‘red’ areas.
Pubs and restaurants in the worst-affected places would be forced to close again, and people would be banned from mixing with other households.
A draft document seen by The Guardian says the system would simplify the swathes of restrictions currently in place across the country.
Each area in England will be assigned a traffic light colour – red, amber and green – with rules set accordingly.
Even in green areas, where the infection rates are lowest, the rule of six and 10pm closing times would remain in place.
Earlier today data showed Manchester has the highest infection rate in England, followed by Liverpool and Knowsley in Merseyside.
The government has not revealed which areas it would class as red, amber or green.
This is how restrictions would vary:
Since the start of the pandemic 50,277 death certificates have mentioned coronavirus in England and 2,592 in Wales, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed this morning.
The government’s official coronavirus death toll stands at 42,369 after a further 19 fatalities were confirmed yesterday.
The number of cases increased by 12,594 to 515,571.
As of yesterday there were 2,428 people in hospital with coronavirus, of which 368 were in ventilator beds.
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