Is your city at risk of a Leicester-style ‘local lockdown’?

London boroughs and Doncaster among areas with rising infection rates

Health experts expect the UK to have ‘a number of Leicesters’
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Leicester is the first UK city to be placed under local lockdown, with schools and shops re-closing in a bid to suppress a surge in coronavirus cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Monday night that “the growing outbreak in Leicester” meant the government “cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown” takes place in the city.

The local lockdown has triggered concerns that other areas of the UK could soon face a similar fate.

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What is happening Leicester?

While much of the country is seeing lower coronavirus infection rates, Leicester is still struggling with a high proportion of the national cases.

There have been 2,987 positive cases in Leicester since the pandemic began, with 866 of those - 29% - reported in the two weeks to 23 June, says the BBC. Currently, Hancock says, the city has “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week”.

The health secretary added that Leicester’s seven-day infection rate of 135 cases per 100,000 people was “three times higher than the next highest city” and admissions to hospital were between six and 10 per day - compared to about one a day at other trusts.

As a result, Leicester will not enjoy the same unlocking of pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers this weekend as the rest of the country. Rather than taking a step forward, it will take a step back. Non-essential shops have been ordered to close from Tuesday, and schools will close once again from Thursday.

The health secretary said on Monday that “non-essential retail will have to close and... schools will also need to close”. “People in Leicester: stay at home as much as you can. And we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester,” he added.

The local measures will be reviewed in two weeks’ time, Hancock said, and will also apply to the surrounding areas of the city, including Oadby, a town three miles south, and the villages of Glenfield and Birstall, three miles north, reports The Guardian.

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What other places are at risk?

Leicester may have been the first locality to be put on lockdown, but it is unlikely to be the last. There are 36 cities or counties across England now seeing a fresh surge in cases, risking more local lockdown, says The Telegraph.

Kent had 101 new cases between 20-26 June, significantly more than double Leicester’s 41 new cases in the same period. Staffordshire - which was well documented as being hit hard by the virus near the start of the UK outbreak - saw 34 new cases last week.

Doncaster is one of the most troubling areas, with 32 new cases between 20-26 June, a nearly 300% increase on the 11 cases it saw between 11-19 June. There have also been small increases in Derbyshire, Medway, Sandwell, Wakefield, Haringey, Plymouth, Walsall, Suffolk, Gloucestershire, Harrow, Slough, Gateshead and Milton Keynes.

In and around London, there have also been small increases in: Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Ealing, Westminster, Wandsworth, Barking and Dagenham, Enfield, Tower Hamlets, Richmond and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Most of these rises have been small and the general pattern across the UK is still that infection rates are falling.