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Birmingham faces looming lockdown, West Midlands mayor admits - healthyfrog

Birmingham faces looming lockdown, West Midlands mayor admits

A map by Imperial College London predicts which areas will be hit with tough Covid-19 restrictions based on infection rates

Birmingham could be the next city put back into lockdown after infection rates doubled in a week, local leaders have warned.

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said even tougher restrictions were ‘looking likely’ now Birmingham’s case rate had jumped to 69 per 100,000, up from 30 a week ago.

It comes after 712 people caught the virus in the city in the seven days up to Saturday. 

The Government announced today all gatherings in England will be reduced from 30 people to six because of a worrying increase in infections right across the country.

But Mr Street said people in Birmingham could be hit with even tougher rules seen in the likes of Bolton, Western Scotland, Caerphilly and swathes of Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

These places have banned households from mixing in private homes or gardens and people are only allowed to dine out with people they already live with. 

In Bolton, which has the highest rates in the UK, bars and restaurants have already been ordered to shut by 10pm and only serve takeaway to stop people congregating indoors. Residents in Caerphilly have been banned from leaving the Welsh borough without a ‘reasonable excuse’ – such as needing to go to work or school.

Meanwhile, scientists running the Covid Symptom Tracker mobile app have warned they are noticing a significant rise in cases across the UK. King’s College London experts estimate there has been 3,164 daily new cases of the disease on average over the two weeks up to September 4 – higher than is being reported in the official tally.

This is the highest number of cases the app has recorded since late June and the numbers have been climbing for the last few days. KCL scientists now believe the reproduction ‘R’ rate has risen to 1.2, a level which signals the virus could be spreading exponentially.

SAGE – the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – has repeatedly warned that keeping the R below the level one is crucial to keeping a lid on outbreaks.

Scientists running the Covid Symptom Tracker mobile app have warned they are noticing a significant rise in cases across the UK. They say there has been 3,164 daily new cases of the disease on average over the two weeks up to September 4

Scientists running the Covid Symptom Tracker mobile app have warned they are noticing a significant rise in cases across the UK. They say there has been 3,164 daily new cases of the disease on average over the two weeks up to September 4

Local leaders in Birmingham are meeting with national health chiefs today to thrash out a plan to curb the escalating crisis.

Mr Street told Birmingham Live: ‘Thus far, it (the virus) has concentrated in the younger age groups, that’s why we’re not saying that much increase in hospitalisations and deaths.

LOCKDOWNS IN THE UK 

Caerphilly, Wales

Wales’s health minister has said local lockdown in the county borough of Caerphilly will not be lifted until October ‘at the very least’.

People will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse after the restrictions come into force at 6pm on Tuesday.

Everyone over the age of 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops – the first time this will be mandatory in Wales. Meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed, while overnight stays have also been banned.

Western Scotland

Lockdown restrictions on household visits across western parts of Scotland have been continued for a further week – as well as being extended to other council areas.

Measures – originally introduced in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire – now also apply to East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire.

The restrictions bar people from visiting separate households in these parts of the country, while also prohibiting them from visiting homes in other local authorities which have not been impacted.

The measures also mean indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable.

Bolton, England

Hospitality venues are being restricted to takeaway-only in Bolton as part of new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the town, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs.

Bolton Council said on Saturday it was introducing tougher measures ‘with immediate effect’, with people asked not to mix with other households in any setting, either indoors or outdoors, and to only use public transport for essential purposes.

The council said the new restrictions aim to prevent a local lockdown, after the town’s infection rate increased to 99 cases per 100,000 people per week – the highest in England.

Those aged between 18 and 49 account for more than 90 per cent of the cases, the local authority said.

Parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire, Preston, and West Yorkshire

If people live in one of the affected areas they must not host people they do not live with in their home or garden, unless they are in their support bubble.

You also must not meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected area, unless they are in your support bubble, according to the Government website.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Blackburn, Oldham and Pendle

As with the above, there is a ban on two households mixing indoors or in a garden.

People should not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.

And in specific areas with additional restrictions, people should not socialise with people they do not live with at indoor public venues or outdoor venues such as parks.

Leicester City

People should not have visitors to their homes or socialise with people they do not live with in other indoor public venues such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions.

They also should not visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.

There are no local lockdown measures in Northern Ireland so far.

‘But if we don’t stop this it will translate into these elder age groups and we will have a very serious situation on our hands.’

He added the ‘simplest form of restriction would be city-wide’, adding that given the size of the current infection rate numbers further restrictions were now ‘very, very likely’.

Mr Street said the rise was mostly among under-40s and was being driven by people socialising and meeting with other household. 

The alarm was raised in Birmingham at the weekend as the city’s infection rate soared past the 50 mark, considered a good indicator of imminent restrictions. 

Birmingham public health director Dr Justin Varney said: ‘This is not a false alarm – we are on the precipice and if we are not careful we will be back where we were in April and May and lives will be lost.’

Liverpool, Leeds, Sunderland, Salford and Gateshead are all thought to be at risk of further lockdown rules amid rising cases – according to analysis of official data by Imperial College London.

Researchers at the university have created a map which aims to predict the places where cases will soar, based on how fast infections are rising there. 

The map shows the probability that a local authority will become a hotspot by September 26, based on a percentage.

It says Birmingham is 100 per cent likely to be hit with restrictions and Leeds and the Wirral have a 99 per cent chance.

Rounding out the rest of the hotspots are Sunderland (98 per cent), Gateshead (96 per cent), Hertsmere (96% per cent, Salford (96 per cent) and Liverpool (95 per cent) 

In a major setback for his ambition to get back to normal by Christmas, Boris Johnson today announced the first tightening of national lockdown since March.

From Monday it will be illegal to assemble in groups of seven or more anywhere in England, whether indoors or out.

The limit sparked by concerned that partying young people are fuelling a flare-up – is a dramatic reduction on the maximum of 30 put in place on July 4. It will be enforced by police with £100 fines, doubling on each repeat offence up to £3,200.

Only schools, workplaces and a limited number of other locations will be exempt. 

Mr Johnson said the dramatic steps were the way to ‘keep our economy going, keep our schools open and keep this virus under control’. 

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock made clear this morning that the government is ready to step up the restrictions again if necessary. He praised action taken to slash socialising in Belgium, where a curfew was imposed and appears to have helped stabilise cases. 

However, Mr Hancock also insisted that despite the tough steps it was still right for people to return to offices. He said workplaces were ‘Covid secure’ and evidence showed almost all transmission happened in social settings. 

The England-wide crackdown was sparked after cases topped 2,000 three days running – taking the UK well over the threshold at which it considers imposing quarantine measures on other countries. 

In Scotland, lockdown restrictions on household visits have been introduced across western parts.

Measures – originally introduced in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire – now also apply to East Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire.

The restrictions bar people from visiting separate households in these parts of the country, while also prohibiting them from visiting homes in other local authorities which have not been impacted.

The measures also mean indoor visits to hospitals and care homes will be limited to essential visits only to protect the most vulnerable.

Wales’s health minister has said local lockdown in the county borough of Caerphilly will not be lifted until October ‘at the very least’.

People will not be allowed to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse after the restrictions come into force at 6pm on Tuesday.

Everyone over the age of 11 will be required to wear face coverings in shops – the first time this will be mandatory in Wales. Meetings with other people indoors and extended households will not be allowed, while overnight stays have also been banned.

Meanwhile, scientists running the Covid Symptom Tracker mobile app have warned they are noticing a significant rise in cases across the UK.

Nearly four million of people have been using King’s College London’s app and self-reporting symptoms, which has helped scientists monitor the virus’s trajectory. 

They say there has been 3,164 daily new cases of the disease on average over the two weeks up to September 4.

This is the highest number of cases the app has recorded since late June and the numbers have been climbing for the last few days.

The latest figures were based on the data from 8,456 swab tests done between 22 August to 4 September.  KCL now estimate that 30,948 people currently have symptomatic COVID in the UK.