Leicester has become the first city in the UK to have a local lockdown implemented, after a spike in cases of Covid-19.
While several lockdown rules are set to be relaxed on 4 July across England, Leicester will remain in lockdown until at least 18 July.
Scientists and public health directors have since warned that other parts of England could be forced to extend their lockdown, following in the city of Leicester’s footsteps, as a significant number of Covid-19 outbreaks continue to rise.
President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, Jeanelle de Gruchy, told the Guardian, “We need to be cautious on easing lockdown because we are not out of the woods yet.
“Leicester is a sobering example of that. It should make us cautious about being too gung-ho in easing different measures.”
Here are some of the areas in England which may be forced to extend their lockdowns.
What would an extended lockdown look like?
On the evening of Monday 29 June, Health secretary Matt Hancock announced the city of Leicester was to face stricter lockdown restrictions due to a localised spike in coronavirus cases.
Leicester now faces a range of lockdown measures which have forced schools to close to the majority of students, as well as non-essential shops to close once again.
There is also a ban on non-essential travel.
Most of the restrictions are simply a reintroduction of the strictest measures seen at the start of lockdown, and this could be the future for other cities and regions which see a spike in their infection rates.
Which areas have seen an increase in infection rates?
In his parliamentary speech on June 23, Boris Johnson did acknowledge the potential risks that come from easing lockdown restrictions,
“As we approach July 4, I am afraid that the dangers – as we can see in Leicester – have not gone away.
“The virus is out there, still circling like a shark in the water, and it will take all our collective discipline and resolve to keep that virus at bay.”
Areas such as East Sussex, Somerset and parts of London and Shropshire, have all recently seen a significant increase in infections and a rising infection rate according to tests by NHS and Public Health England laboratories.
Between 18 and 25 June, Medway, and the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing in London saw a weekly increase of over 10 new infections while between 19 and 26 June Nottinghamshire also saw an increase of 10 new infections.
According to data from Public Health England, the areas which have seen a sharp percentage increase in the number new infections between 19 June and 26 June compared to the previous week, are:
- Calderdale (200 per cent increase in the amount of new infections)
- Bolton (66.7 percent increase)
- Rotherham (40.9 percent increase)
- Barnsley (32.1 percent increase)
- St Helens (150 percent increase)
- Telford and Wrekin (250 percent increase)
- Nottinghamshire (83.8 percent increase)
- Cheshire West and Chester (36.4 percent increase)
- Waltham Forest (300 percent increase)
- East Sussex (109.1 percent increase)
- Bromley (200 percent increase)
- Southwark (150 percent increase)
- Hammersmith and Fulham (125 percent increase)
- Wandsworth (100 percent increase)
- Medway (100 percent increase)
- Enfield (100 percent increase)
- Somerset (100 percent increase)
- Greenwich (100 percent increase)
- Kensington and Chelsea (100 percent increase)
- Luton (66.7 percent increase)
- Barking and Dagenham (50 percent increase)
- Lambeth (50 percent increase)
- Merton (50 percent increase)
Meanwhile, during that week North Lincolnshire and Haringey recorded four new cases, while Dudley saw eight new cases whereas the week prior both areas had recorded no new cases.
However, this data excludes figures from ‘Pillar 2’ tests, run by private companies, which has sparked concerns and criticisms among health officials.
Publicly available data for Barnsley, reported on 45 cases per 100,000 people in the month of June.
Additionally 5 percent of the total recorded cases in Yorkshire and the Humber, and 7 percent of all the recorded positive cases in the east Midlands had been recorded in June.
However these figures could be misleading.
If community testing from prior months had been taken into account, the percentage of cases seen from June alone may not be as high.
Concerns over lack of sufficient testing data
The warnings of localised regressions into stricter lockdowns arose alongside other concerns regarding data collection and sharing.
The Government publishes updated data each afternoon revealing the number of positive cases of Covid-19.
However, this publicly available data only comprises one source of information, which is the number of positive tests carried out by hospitals (known as Pillar 1 testing data).
Because of this, concerns have been raised about local public health officials not being able to access enough detailed regional data on positive testing figures made through private, community testing (known as Pillar 2 testing).
It has been argued that not publishing such data has prevented regional cases from being tracked in order to prevent further spreading of the virus.
In Leicester, since only Pillar 1 data had been published by the government, it did not give insight into the true number of positive tests in the area carried out by community testing, resulting in an unexpected spike in the number of cases.
This lack of data then gave regional officials insufficient time to respond to the outbreak.
Detailed local data on the number of positive tests has now been provided to directors of public health in relevant authority areas since 24 June.
Updated Public Health England data
Public Health England (PHE) have recently revealed the latest figures on the number of new coronavirus cases in local authority areas in England.
These new figures now include both Pillar 1 and Pillar two tests that have been carried out in both laboratories and in the wider community.
This data from PHE lists the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in each local area, during the week ending 21 June 2020.
The top 10 worst affected areas in the UK are:
Leicester – with 140.2 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people
Blackburn with Darwen 32.9