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Leicester lockdown tightened as coronavirus cases rise

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Stricter lockdown measures have been announced for Leicester after Covid-19 cases have risen in the city.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said non-essential shops will shut on Tuesday, and schools will close for most pupils on Thursday.

The loosening of restrictions for pubs and restaurants will also not be taking place in the city on Saturday.

Mr Hancock said Leicester accounted for “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week”.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday evening, he added: “We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”

Mr Hancock said the number of positive coronavirus cases in Leicester was “three times higher than the next highest city”.

He said the decision to close non-essential retail was based on clinical advice, and added that “children had been particularly impacted” by the local outbreak.

Five Leicester schools have closed since the beginning of June because of a number of coronavirus cases.

The tightening of lockdown measures in Leicester will also apply to suburbs of the city, such as Oadby, Birstall and Glenfield.

The relaxation of shielding measures on 6 July – which will allow the most clinical-vulnerable to spend more time outside – will also not take place in Leicester.

If there is one thing that has become clear during the pandemic, it is that the quicker action is taken the better.

Given the scale of the outbreak in Leicester that has emerged, it therefore comes as no surprise that the government is taking tough action.

But the question that is being asked behind the scenes is whether it took too long to spot the scale of the outbreak.

One of the concerns about the test and trace system is how quickly data gets passed from the national team to local officials.

The national team passes on plenty of cases – any complex cases involved care homes, schools and prisons are automatically transferred.

But what local authorities are not getting quickly are comprehensive details about individuals who test positive.

It means opportunities to spot trends and clusters early may be being lost.

It is now clear cases in the city have been growing for a few weeks.

That at least raises the concern that the outbreak has been acted on later than it should. If that is the case, it is important lessons are learned because it is highly likely there will be more flare-ups like this in the coming weeks and months.

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Date: June 29, 2020
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