United Kingdom

Risk of local lockdowns - are Covid-19 cases in your area rising or falling?

Last month, Leicester became the first city to see a local lockdown imposed after public health officials raised alarm over the number of Covid-19 cases in the city.

On June 29, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that, from the following day, non-essential shops would be forced to close and that, from July 2, schools would be shut to all but vulnerable children and the children of key workers. 

The city has remained an outlier as it battles to reduce its infection rate, but there have been warnings that repeated, localised lockdowns will become a regular feature of life for the foreseeable future.

To avoid becoming the next place to be put back into lockdown, public health officials in Blackburn this week introduced new measures to slow the virus as cases continue to rise.

The highest infection rates

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described local lockdowns as a measure of "last resort" and set out "five principal components" for tackling new potential outbreaks – "monitoring, engagement, testing, targeted restrictions" and finally lockdown.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference this month, he warned that local lockdowns would remain a "feature of our lives for some time to come".

The Leicester lockdown came when its infection rate was three times higher than any other local authority in England, at more than 130 cases per 100,000 each week.

Since then the rate has fallen to a little over 100 cases per 100,000 in the week to July 12, according to the latest data from Public Health England.

Use the Telegraph's interactive postcode tool below to see whether cases are on the rise in your area.

The authority is third on the list of highest weekly rates, behind Leicester, with 101.6 cases per 100,000 people and nearby Pendle, with a rate of 72.7.

Around 200 staff at AS Green and Co, which supplies vegetables to Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Aldi and Asda, were put into two-weeks isolation in temporary mobile home accommodation in a bid to control the spread after the Herefordshire staff members tested positive. It followed a number of outbreaks in meat processing plants.

After Leicester was put back into lockdown, the Government drew up a watchlist of 20 towns that are at the highest risk of going into lockdown. They included Bradford and Blackburn, where higher than average infection rates categorised them as being of “concern” or needing “enhanced” support.

A decision on whether to extend Leicester's lockdown for another two weeks is expected to be made on Saturday. 

A spike in cases from a meat-packing plant in Merthyr Tydfil temporarily gave the Welsh town the highest weekly infection rate in Britain - but appeared to be an isolated incident with minimal community transmission.

The rate of cases has now also begun to spike in Pendle, in Lancashire, which saw an infection rate of more than 70 per 100,000 people in the week to July 12.

The number of confirmed cases relies on the extent and availability of testing in the local area, so the data is likely to be an underestimate.

Where could the next lockdown come?

Future lockdowns may be much more localised than the city-wide restrictions in Leicester, it has been suggested.

A farm in Herefordshire became the first business in the country to go into lockdown this month, after 73 workers tested positive for Covid-19, leading to concerns over further outbreaks happening as seasonal workers gather for harvest time.

Extra measures including a limit on the number of people allowed to visit a household were announced this week in Blackburn with Darwen after a rise in coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, the Lancashire authority's director of public health Dominic Harrison announced the new measures to be followed for the next month with the aim of avoiding a local lockdown.

The restrictions include a limit of two people from the same household allowed to visit another home.

In the week to July 12  Blackburn had 46.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 31.6 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to July 4.

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