UK could lock down city of Leicester over coronavirus fears

A cyclist is seen using a temporary cycling lane in Leicester, Britain, on May 17, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The English Midlands city of Leicester could face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Sunday (June 28).

"There will be support going into Leicester and in fact the Health Secretary (Matt Hancock) was in touch with many of us over the weekend explaining some of the measures, the support on testing, resources that will go into the local authority as well," Ms Patel told the BBC.

Reports in the Sunday Times newspaper said the government was set to reimpose strict lockdown rules on Leicester "within the next few days" after a spike of 658 new cases reported in the two weeks up to June 16.

The increases were linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants and reports of large gatherings outside takeaway restaurants.

Ms Patel added there had been "flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular".

"For local outbreaks, it is appropriate to have local solutions in terms of infection control, social distancing, screening and many tools," said Ms Patel.

The news regarding Leicester comes at a worrying time for the UK, a country badly affected by the pandemic.

Mr Boris Johnson's government is set to ease virus lockdown restrictions from July 4 - despite predictions of a second wave of infections - by opening pubs, restaurants and hairdressers among others across England on July 4.

In the last few days, Britain has seen tens of thousands of people ignore social distancing rules and flood to beaches, hold street parties as well as Liverpool fans crowd the city after their football club won the Premier League.

Ms Patel added: "I think it's right that we are all conscientious about concerns of another wave.

"I think nothing would be more damaging for our country, for our economy if we do have a second wave."

Leading medical experts warned earlier this month of the "real risk" of a second coronavirus wave this winter.

More than 43,000 people have died due to the coronavirus, official figures show, though the final death toll is expected to be much higher.

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