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Leicester finds out TODAY if it is coming out of lockdown after more than two weeks

Leicester will find out today if it is coming out of lockdown after two weeks as its 'angry and frustrated' mayor blasts the 'blanket political' restrictions placed on the whole city.

Sir Peter Soulsby said he expected to hear from Health Secretary Matt Hancock this afternoon on whether restrictions will be lifted for the city.

It follows the Mayor saying inner-city areas of Leicester with high levels of deprivation are the 'most significantly' affected by coronavirus and keeping the remaining 90 per cent of the city under lockdown is no longer justified.

Leicester became the first place in the country to have tight measures re-imposed on June 30 following a rise in coronavirus infections. 

Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, pictured, said he expected to hear from Health Secretary Matt Hancock this afternoon on whether restrictions will be lifted for the city

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Sir Peter criticised what he described as the Government's 'blanket political-led lockdown' of the whole of the city, and said he was angry and frustrated.

Asked when he expected to learn if the local lockdown has been lifted, he said: 'The Secretary of State is due to make an announcement this afternoon.

'I expect to hear when the rest of the city, and indeed the rest of the country hears - because frankly we have not been involved in any of the decision-making about this.

'We have been told what the political decisions will be, and we will be told again what the political decision will be - whether or not we come out of it.'

Speaking on what he hoped Mr Hancock would say, Sir Peter went on: 'I hope he'll recognise that as a result of what we are already doing here in the city, we are dramatically driving down the transmission of the virus.

'Now that we do know where we need to be focusing our attention, I hope that he will allow us and trust us at a local level to work with the people of the city - and to recognise that the other 90 per cent of the city that has been locked down, along with the area that is of concern, should be allowed to go free with the rest of the country.'

Asked what his reaction would be if the Government announced a further two-week lockdown, the city's mayor said: 'I think if we are told that, there are going to be an awful lot of Leicester people who are very angry indeed.

'It was quite clear that it was a political decision taken without the advice of Public Health England to take us into this lockdown in the first place. It'll be a political decision to let us out and the sooner that political decision is taken, the better.' 

He added: 'Some streets have no issue at all and in other streets nearby you've got a major issue, and we needed to know that at the time so we could intervene with pinpoint accuracy.

'Further advice needs to be given, support needs to be given, and we needed to know where that advice and support was needed.' 

A woman wearing a face mask walks along a street of closed shops in Leicester. Sir Peter said Mr Hancock is due to make an announcement on the lockdown on Thursday afternoon

Leicester was ordered into a further two weeks of lockdown on June 30 after levels of infection spiked in parts of the city

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night a decision will be made over the next 24 hours but the infection rate in Leicester was still 'a lot higher than elsewhere'.

Sir Peter said Government data had 'finally' told city officials which areas of Leicester were worst affected by coronavirus.

He told BBC Radio Leicester: 'If only we'd had this information in advance, we'd have been able to do what they're now doing in Blackburn, which is actually working closely with the communities and avoiding having to be locked down.

'I very much regret the fact that the Government didn't trust us with this data earlier but I think now we've got it, we are the ones well-placed here in the city to make sure that we use it effectively.'

'Other 90 per cent must share my anger that delay in data caused unnecessary and unjustified #LockdownLeicester.' 

Sir Peter said on Wednesday that only 10 per cent of the city was showing higher transmission rates and branded the local lockdown as 'unnecessary and unjustified'.  

Sir Peter said: 'Data highlights only 10 per cent of #Leicester showing higher transmission rates - should have had this information weeks ago to focus efforts'

A view of an empty street in Leicester on July 4, following a local lockdown imposed amid the coronavirus outbreak in the city

In a report Sir Peter posted on social media, he said that new neighbourhood data showed the areas most affected by the virus were those with high levels of deprivation in the inner city.

Sir Peter said this meant it was no longer possible to justify the rest of the Greater Leicester area remaining in lockdown.

He added: 'Together with other local authority leaders throughout England, we have been asking for some weeks for neighbourhood data about the coronavirus testing in our areas. We have now received the first set of that data.

'This clearly shows that the areas most significantly affected by the virus are those with high levels of deprivation in the inner city.

'Given what this data shows, it is no longer possible to justify the continuation of the 'lockdown' across the remaining 90 per cent of the Greater Leicester area.' 

Sir Peter tweeted: 'Data highlights only 10 per cent of #Leicester showing higher transmission rates - should have had this information weeks ago to focus efforts.

The most recent data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the number of new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population in Leicester has dropped from 127.2 in the seven days to July 5 to 104.4 in the seven days to July 12.

It was 143.6 in the seven days to June 28, just before the local lockdown was imposed. 

Cases in Blackburn with Darwen have soared from around 20 per 100,000 population to a rate of 47 since June 24

Customers wearing face masks socially distance as they queue to enter a NatWest bank in Blackburn yesterday

A mobile testing centre at Witton Park High School in Blackburn with Darwen. Residents are being encouraged to get tested even if they don't have symptoms

Latest Public Health England (PHE) data shows Blackburn with Darwen (shown) has 47 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last week — second only to Leicester's rate of 101.3

Second on the list is Pendle in Lancashire where the rate has gone up from 14.2 to 74.4, and where 68 new cases have been recorded in the seven days to July 12.

Asked about when the Leicester lockdown would end, Mr Hancock told ITV's Peston on Wednesday evening: 'The formal decision will be taken over the next 24 hours. 

WHICH AREAS OF ENGLAND HAVE THE HIGHEST INFECTION RATES CURRENTLY? 

Leicester

Blackburn with Darwen

Bradford 

Herefordshire 

Rochdale

Peterborough

Luton

Kirklees

Calderdale

Wakefield

Oldham

Bolton

Rotherham

Manchester

Sheffield 

Northampton 

Salford

Leicestershire

Stoke-on-Trent

Lancashire 

Figures relate to the number of new coronavirus cases diagnosed for every 100,000 people living in each local authority between July 6 and 12. 

'Tomorrow I will be speaking to the leadership of Leicester and having meetings on this. The infection rate has come down in Leicester. 

'It's still a lot higher than elsewhere. And, so, I don't want to prejudge a decision tomorrow.'

Mr Hancock told MPs earlier in the week that a public announcement would be made 'as soon as is reasonably possible'.

Meanwhile for people in the borough of Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire, visits have been reduced to one household and two members from a separate household.

Director of Public Health Prof Dominic Harrison said: 'These steps will help and we are appealing to everyone in Blackburn with Darwen to follow them to protect themselves and their loved ones.

'If we don't a local lockdown, like in Leicester, becomes a very real possibility.'

He added: 'We know that they are in mainly south-Asian areas, and they are in areas with high number of terraced houses with high numbers of occupants in the house, so four or more, five or more people in the household.' 

Residents in Blackburn, Darwen and Pendle have also been asked to wear face masks inside to prevent a local lockdown, as infections spread amongst those living in crowded housing environments. 

Figures showed 85 per cent of new Covid-19 infections in Blackburn with Darwen are among its South Asian population, a local health chief revealed yesterday.

People are also being urged not to hug anyone from outside their own household and to get regularly tested at new mobile centres as part of the measures to avoid a Leicester-style lockdown, which council bosses say is a 'very real' threat. 

Mass testing began at the weekend after 114 people caught the virus in the last two weeks. 

Latest Public Health England (PHE) data shows Blackburn with Darwen has 47 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last week — second only to Leicester's rate of 101.3.

Dominic Harrison, the authority's director of public health, said 85 per cent of the 114 new cases were people from South Asian backgrounds, despite the South Asian community only accounting for 30 per cent of the council's 150,000 population.

MailOnline has contacted the Department of Health and Social Care for comment. 

Rate of Covid-19 infection in England dropped in May BEFORE lockdown restrictions were lifted 

The rate of coronavirus infection in England was significantly reduced before lockdown restrictions were lifted, a government study has found. 

More than 120,000 volunteers were tested across England in the month of May as part of the country's largest coronavirus surveillance study.

Every infected person was passing the virus on to 0.57 people during May, just before schools and shops re-opened, the results show.

The finding is significantly lower than what was estimated by the Government at the time — between 0.7 and one —and proves the lockdown was effective at curbing the spread of the virus.

The reproduction rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — was expected to be 2.4 before lockdown started.  

The research, run by Imperial College London, also gives an insight into who was more likely to catch the coronavirus in May.

Young adults aged between 18 and 24, people of Asian ethnicity, and care home workers were most likely to test positive for Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the study, which has been repeated in June, is crucial to the country's ongoing battle with coronavirus. 

'This ambitious testing programme will help us better understand the spread of the virus to date, predict how it may spread in the future and inform our response to the pandemic,' he said.

'It shows the impact our national lockdown efforts have had and demonstrates that we have taken the right actions at the right time.'

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