Birmingham is expected to be placed into local lockdown if coronavirus cases continue to rise, officials in the city have warned.
Council leader Ian Ward has urged local residents to take immediate precautions in an effort to prevent any further increases and to help control the spread.
Why is Birmingham at risk?
The warning comes after the infection rate in the city rose from 19.7 to 31.7 in the seven days up to 15 August, with 362 new cases - up from 225 cases in the week before.
The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) show that this number has now fallen slightly, dropping to 30.2 per 100,000 people.
The percentage of people testing positive in the city is up by 4.3 per cent, with more than half of cases reported in the last week being within the 18 to 34 age demographic.
The UK government has now added Birmingham to its national ‘watchlist’ as an “area of enhanced support”, along with several other cities, including Oldham and Pendle.
Areas in this category will be provided with increased national support to help manage outbreaks, meaning the city will benefit from additional testing, locally led contact tracing and targeted community engagement.
As yet, local lockdown restrictions have not yet been enforced, but local leaders are discussing what additional measures should be taken to help manage the outbreak. The Secretary of State will hold a meeting with local council leaders and the Mayor of the West Midlands today to discuss urgent next steps.
Where else is at risk?
Northampton has now been named as an “area of intervention” following a marked increase in cases, with the local incidence rate reaching 125.1 per 100,000 people during the week ending 13 August.
Local testing data showed that this spike is almost entirely due to an outbreak linked to the workforce at the Greencore Factory, where almost 300 workers have tested positive. The factory will close voluntarily from Friday (21 August) and employees and their direct households will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Additional guidance will also be introduced in Oldham, Blackburn and parts of Pendle to help curb a rise in cases.
As of midnight on Saturday (22 Aug), local residents in these areas are not allowed to socialise with anyone from outside their household.
Residents have also been advised to avoid using public transport except for essential travel, and the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships and funerals will be limited to household members and close family, with no more than 20 people.
Local restaurants will also be encouraged to halt walk-ins, and only seat people who make reservations in advance, up to a maximum of six people per table.
The new rules - which will not apply in the Darwen area of the Blackburn with Darwen upper tier local authority area, parts of Pendle, in Rossendale, or in Wigan - are in addition to the existing ban on indoor gatherings of more than two households in place across parts of Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.
Where else is on the watchlist?
The latest surveillance report from PHE includes a list of local authorities that have been included in the national watchlist, based on the latest available daily data between 10 and 16 August.
These are all the towns and cities that are currently on the list:
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Newark and Sherwood
- Oadby and Wigston