Birmingham's infection rate has more than doubled in a week

Victoria Bell
·4 min read
Pedestrians walking on Hill Street in Birmingham city centre, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Pedestrians walking in Birmingham city centre, as figures show a rise in new infections in the region. (Getty)

Birmingham’s coronavirus infection rate has doubled in one week as fears grow that the city might be at risk of a local lockdown.

Some 321 new cases have been recorded in the city over the last seven days.

Dr Justin Varney, Birmingham’s director of public health, said it was likely the city would feature in the national “watch list” of places most at risk of intervention within days.

There is no sign of the current rise in cases easing off, he said.

"We could very easily be in a situation like we have seen in Leicester and Greater Manchester," Varney added.

At the start of August, Birmingham had an infection rate of around 12 cases per 100,000 of the population.

That rose to 24 by the end of last week, and on Monday stood at “around 30”, Varney said.

People wearing face masks in Birmingham city centre eerily quiet and deserted on New Street, one of the normally busy shopping areas, under lockdown due to Coronavirus on 24th April 2020 in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. Coronavirus or Covid-19 is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. While much or Europe has been placed into lockdown, the UK government has extended stringent rules as part of their long term strategy, and in particular 'social distancing', which has left usually bustling areas like a ghost town. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
People wearing face masks in Birmingham city centre. (Getty)

“There has been a real rise in infection transmission. If we have to go back into lockdown local businesses will suffer too,” Varney said, according to Birmingham Live.

“It's about jobs, about kids being able to get back to school – the decisions we make now have an impact on all of those things.”

Boris Johnson has ordered parts of the north of England back into partial lockdowns in a bid to stop a second wave of coronavirus following a surge in cases.

Read more: The ‘areas of concern’ at risk of local coronavirus lockdown

On Saturday, West Midlands Police discovered more than 300 people at an illegal rave in Birmingham city centre, one of 80 gatherings the force said it had had to deal with over the weekend.

On Friday, council leader Ian Ward urged people to adhere to social distancing.

“People right across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands still have a huge part to play if we're going to avoid a further lockdown,” he said. “We can't afford to drop our guard now.”

Public Health England data on Monday showed coronavirus cases had reached worrying levels across the north of England.

In the past week, there have been 69 cases per 100,000 in Blackburn with the nearby town of Darwen having now surpassed Leicester.

A number of local coronavirus outbreaks have been identified since some lockdown restrictions were eased across the UK.

Read more: UK facing 'major outbreak' of coronavirus as disease spreads

Leicester was the first city subjected to a local lockdown after a spike in cases, on 29 June.

Earlier this month, the government announced that parts of the city would be released from lockdown, while a “targeted” approach would see pockets remain under tighter restrictions.

The infection rate in Leicester has now fallen to 50 cases per 100,000.

On July 30, that local lockdown was lifted in part with pubs and restaurants allowed to re-open but some restrictions remaining in the city.

Coronavirus alert messages on a sign in the centre of Leicester, as a decision is due to be made on whether to lift the lockdown restrictions in the city.
Coronavirus alert messages on a sign in the centre of Leicester, after it was locked down on 29 June. (PA)

A watchlist of local councils that forms part of a weekly report of coronavirus infections by Public Health England (PHE) helps the government track spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country.

The government’s strategy is now to use “local interventions” to target the worst-affected areas, bringing in localised restrictions to curb the spread of the virus and prevent the whole country from going back into lockdown.

Read more: The areas with the highest number of new coronavirus cases in England

Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire is the latest region added to the list following a rise in reported infections.

The area has now been deemed an “area of concern” in the new report released by PHE.

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