UK considering Leicester lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike

UK considering Leicester lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike
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The United Kingdom is considering imposing a city-specific lockdown for the first time during its coronavirus pandemic after the city of Leicester became a hot spot for the virus.

The central English city saw more than 650 new cases in the first two weeks of June, and British Home Secretary Priti Patel told the BBC that the idea was under consideration.

“There will be support going into Leicester and in fact the health secretary was in touch with many of us over the weekend explaining some of the measures, the support on testing, resources that will go into the local authority as well,’’ Patel said. “With local flare-ups it is right we have a localized solution.’’

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The outbreak in the city has disproportionately affected its population who are of Indian and Pakistani descent, ABC reported, similar to the virus’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino Americans.

The country as a whole is gradually lifting a strict nationwide lockdown that Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in late March. Further steps to reopen are scheduled for early July. The national reopening strategy is heavily dependent on plans to aggressively identify and tackle local outbreaks, according to ABC.

Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, told ABC that establishing the parameters of the lockdown area could be a steep challenge, noting the wide variation in the region.

“Locking down at the regional level would be seen as unfair or worse, as Leicester City has really very little to do with rural Lincolnshire,’’ he told the network. “People do not identify with their regional boundaries and many would not actually know where they are.”

Johnson’s government’s early strategy before announcing the lockdown was heavily criticized, and Claudia Webbe, a member of Parliament for Leicester East, said the city’s outbreak is due to insufficient resources from the national government.

“What they’ve been doing is giving Leicester bows and arrows to address a major pandemic problem,’’ she told the BBC. “This is ridiculous.’’