Birmingham is 'on the road to lockdown', says health chief – as 'cases double in a week'

BIRMINGHAM could end up on the local lockdown list within days, public health officials have warned.

Director of public health Dr Justin Varney said it was likely that the city would feature in the national “watch list” due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.

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Birmingham city’s coronavirus infection rate has more than doubled in a week, with 321 new cases recorded over the last seven days.

"We could very easily be in a situation like we have seen in Leicester and Greater Manchester,” Dr Varney said earlier this morning.

Both Leicester and Greater Manchester have seen strict lockdown restrictions imposed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock after a recorded spike in infections.

But concerns about Birmingham have been triggered by the fast-growing number of new cases. 

In the beginning of August, the city had an infection rate of around 12 cases per 100,00 population.

Last week that number doubled to 24 and today the infection stands at “around 30”.

The rise in cases has been in part due to more people being tested but according to Dr Varney, “there has been a real rise in infection transmission”. 

 

Dr Varney's plea was to everyone to be aware that the virus "still kills" and is still just as infectious.

He said: "If we have to go back into lockdown local businesses will suffer too.

"It's about jobs, about kids being able to get back to school – the decisions we make now have an impact on  all of those things."

Although not at the infection rate of Leicester before heading into lockdown (100), Birmingham is now alarmingly close to the situation in Blackburn and Lancashire where the rate reached around 50.


On August 15 Health chiefs have revealed their latest watch list of coronavirus hotspots – including those now at risk of new localised lockdowns.

Public Health England named 21 "areas of intervention" where special measures are already in place and eight "areas of concern" where restrictions could come next.

Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire is the latest region added to the list following a worrying rise in reported infections.

It has now been deemed an "area of concern" in the new report released by experts from PHE.

The area has recorded 26.3 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people in the last seven days.

Health bosses warned that all local the current lockdowns were "under constant consideration".

And said other towns could be slapped with tough new restrictions if infection rates crept up.

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, told the Sun Online: “The rate of cases has been rising in Birmingham, this reflects both an increase in spread of Covid-19, especially linked to social gatherings and workplaces, and also an increase in the uptake of testing, the latter of which is positive.

“It is important to highlight that the levels remain significantly lower than other parts of the country in local lockdown but have increased over August and we are working with communities, businesses and the NHS to increase access to testing, engagement with the confidential NHS tracing service and to support Covid-safe workplaces.

“This latest data is an important reminder that we all have a continued part to play in controlling the spread of this virus through keeping social distance, washing hands regularly and wearing face coverings inside a range of settings including shops and taxis, on public transport and in faith settings.”

 

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