Matt Hancock: ‘My heart goes out to the people of Leicester’

Clay Curtis
July 1, 2020

"The prime minister has talked about a "whack a mole" strategy to tackle local outbreaks, but this is no use if the people leading the response on the ground - be they public health teams or local leaders - are not given the most accurate up-to-date data possible", he said.

The government insisted it had been working closely with local partners.

Surrounding areas in the county of Leicestershire were also included in the lockdown measures.

Matt Hancock has confirmed that the law will even be changed.

Leicester has recorded 866 new cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

Action to slow the spread of coronavirus in Leicester over the last 11 days failed to work and tougher measures were needed, the Health Secretary has said.

As the rest of the country prepares to relax a whole host of coronavirus rules on Saturday, non-essential shops in the city have been told to close their doors once more.

The lockdown is set to ease further in England on Saturday, including the reopening of bars, restaurants and hair salons, but the BMA said it wanted the government to set metric "trigger points" for when action will be taken to reintroduce local and national restrictions.

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Hancock said the seven-day infection rate in Leicester was three times higher than the next highest city.

He said the hospital data had shown who was most affected, adding: "Men have been quite heavily affected particularly in late middle age, elderly people have been hit particularly hard, and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities in general have had somewhat higher rates of admission to hospital than the white community".

Previously, Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby said policing the lockdown would be "something of a challenge" without knowing what the boundaries were.

He said the government had to take "difficult but important decisions" for the benefit of Leicester's population, which is thought to number around 350,000.

"Because, obviously, the firmer we are now, the sooner we'll get out of this".

"People are really worried in Leicester, people are going to be anxious".

Mr Hancock said "in some cases" the lockdown would be enforced by police, while legal changes would be made so non-essential retail is no longer open.

Through the councils, authorities will also help workplaces with coronavirus clusters to "implement more stringently the Covid-secure guidelines". "We got an email from Dr Jerry Hill [BHA medical chief adviser] asking about local staffing levels". We will just keep working until we are told otherwise.

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