Great Britain

Coronavirus: No area in England classified as ‘low risk’ as Leeds faces new restrictions

Not one single local area in England can currently be considered “low risk” for coronavirus infection under the new NHS Test and Trace app.

The contact-tracing app was finally rolled out across England and Wales on Thursday after months of delay, and is designed to automatically alert people if they have been close to anyone who tests positive.

One element within the app is a localised risk level based on the user’s postcode – ranked either low, medium or high depending on the area’s infection rate.

But as cases across the country continue to rise, nowhere in England is deemed “low” risk, according to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

In England, localised risk level is determined by data from a local authority watch list. The most up-to-date list highlights 44 areas of targeted “intervention” – and 11 others marked out as areas of concern.

Leeds is likely to face new restrictions from midnight on Friday, including a ban on households mixing, its city council leader has said.

Judith Blake said she expected Leeds will be made an “area of intervention”, meaning “more household restrictions along the lines of those already in force across three of the West Yorkshire districts in Bradford, Kirkless and Calderdale”.

She told reporters: “We expect them to come in from midnight.”

And London is being placed on a watchlist, according to council leaders. 

New cases of Covid-19 in England shot up to around 9,600 per day – up from around 6,000 per day during the previous week, the latest estimate from the Office for National Statistics showed on Friday.

It comes as the NHS Covid-19 app has shot to the top of the download chart on both iOS and Android since being launched, with more than one million downloads confirmed on Android alone.

The new NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app (PA)

DHSC said it expects to release an update on exact download numbers on Monday. The app was hit by complaints from some users, however – with some complaining that they were unable to download it because of the age of their mobile phone.

Apple iPhones need to be running the iOS 13.5 version of the firm’s software, released last year but available to devices several years older, while users of Google’s Android require version 6.0, which was rolled out in 2015.

“The more people who download the app, the more people who may have Covid but otherwise wouldn't be traced should be identified and instructed to isolate,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chairman.

“The use of the app does not diminish the pressing need to have sufficient testing capacity, and must complement a properly functioning national test and trace system which can also quickly identify local outbreaks.”

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