The city of Leeds has been added to the government “watchlist” as an area of concern due to rising numbers of coronavirus infection.
Public Health England’s latest COVID-19 surveillance report, published on Friday afternoon, details rates of infection across the country, and categorises areas identified as having high infection rates.
A spokesman from Leeds City Council confirmed the news before the government officially announced it.
He said: “The latest seven-day infection figures show Leeds as having a rate of 32.4 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate on testing of 3.5%,” the council said.
“The latest data suggests that a lot of the cases are in different areas of the city, meaning they may be linked to social interaction and leisure activities.
“The spread is broad and changeable across wards and cases have also been increasingly detected in younger people aged 18-34, with some concern over activities like house parties and gatherings.”
While being on the areas of concern list will not mean any further restrictions on Leeds at this stage, it does mean increased monitoring of cases and potential additional steps in future if the city’s infection rates do not start to fall.
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the city’s Outbreak Control Board, said: “We have been working tirelessly with our partners and communities, doing everything within our power to keep the spread of this virus under control and to ensure Leeds stays open.
“However, we can’t accomplish that alone and this rise in infection rates means that inevitably, our window of opportunity is shrinking by the day and the city is rapidly approaching a tipping point.
“We completely understand that these past six months have put a tremendous strain on everyone in Leeds and that being able to get out, socialise and enjoy ourselves has provided a massive lift.
“But it is absolutely crucial that if we want to continue to do that, we all do it sensibly and responsibly and follow the latest guidance which is there to keep us all safe.”
A new interactive coronavirus map that predicts areas that will become coronavirus hotspots in the next few weeks was launched this week.
The map has suggested that Cardiff, Leeds and Breckland could all see a major uptick in cases in coming weeks.
Leeds, which had 32.2 cases per 100,000 in the week starting 23 August, only had a 20% chance of becoming a hotspot this week. However, the website predicts it has an 85% chance of becoming a hotspot by 19 September.
And Cardiff had only an 8% chance of becoming a hotspot this week, but this rockets to 71% by 19 September.
A full list of areas affected by local lockdowns and details of the restrictions can be found on the gov.uk website.
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