Another Midlands town faces lockdown as second wave coronavirus figures rise

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Health chiefs in the county fear an immediate local lockdown is needed as the borough battles a rising number of COVID-19 cases. People are being advised to stay at home and avoid public transport.

A statement from the county’s Local Resilience Forum said: “The rate of infection is increasing and the amount of positive tests are also increasing within the borough.

“This increase in the infection rate means that we need to take action now to prevent further spread of the virus and potential local lockdown measures.”

Other measures include avoiding car sharing and meeting anyone from outside family households or bubbles in indoor spaces.

Borough Council leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn said: “We have been urging caution for a number of weeks, but now we are asking for action from our local residents.

“If we follow the additional advice provided now, and if we are successful in reducing our rate of transmission, we can avoid having to reintroduce further restrictive measures.”

Earlier this month, Leicester was forced to go back into lockdown as cases soared to around 140 per 100,000.

In Northampton, the figure is currently around 23 per 100,000 but county councillor Ian Morris, Portfolio holder for Public Health, is concerned the number is still high.

He told the Northampton Chronicle: “We are concerned that coronavirus cases in Northampton remain higher than we would like them to be.

“So we are issuing a set of messages to the residents of Northampton to help us start to reduce the level of transmission.

“If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, get tested and self-isolate.

“It is essential that the public follow the guidance and that everyone acts responsibly in reducing the risk of transmission and protecting those in our communities who are most vulnerable.”

In order to combat the rising numbers, health officials have provided an extra mobile testing unit to allow people to get a drive-through or walk-in test.

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Fears of rising numbers in Northampton come just days after Luton and Blackburn with Darwen were upgraded to “areas of intervention” by Public Health England.

These are areas “where there is divergence from the measures in place in the rest of England because of the significance of the spread, with a detailed action plan in place, and local resources augmented with a national support,” PHE said.

In Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, cases jumped from 49.7 per 100,000 to 81.9 in a seven day period.

The leader of the council, Mohammed Khan, said: “The increase in testing is helping to ensure that we are heading in the right direction with a reduction in positive cases and hospital admissions.

“We need to keep up the momentum with our strong prevention work so we agree it’s sensible not to relax the easing of restrictions at the moment to stop the spread.

“We have already decided to delay the opening of our council leisure facilities along with introducing other localised prevention measures.

“We feel that accelerating our control measures in this way will assist us to move out of having higher COVID rates even faster – we are grateful for the Government’s help in our local plans on this.”

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave local authorities in England new powers to tackle coronavirus outbreaks.

Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said: “At the start of the pandemic, we knew far less about the spread of the virus and we had to take blanket national measures.

“National lockdown was undoubtedly the right thing to do and has saved many thousands of lives.

“Now, however, we know more about the virus, we understand the epidemiology better and our intelligence about where it is spreading is vastly improved.

“That means we can control it through targeted local action instead.”

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