The government will be imposing a fresh spate of lockdown rules on the city of Leicester after the area was hit with an outbreak of coronavirus cases.
“We will be bringing forward a legal change very shortly, in the next couple of days, because some of the measures that we’ve unfortunately had to take in Leicester will require a legal underpinning,” health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News.
Asked if some aspects of the lockdown would be enforced by the police, he said: “Yes, in some cases.”
Officials said yesterday that Leicester had accounted for 10 per cent of all new coronavirus cases in the last week, with nearly 1,000 cases confirmed in the last fortnight.
The strict lockdown means all non-essential shops will shut today, while schools will close for most pupils on Thursday. The planned reopening of pubs and restaurants in England this weekend will also not include Leicester.
The new local measures will be in place for at least two weeks, after which they will be reviewed.
Hancock told the House of Commons yesterday: “We recommend to people in Leicester, stay at home as much as you can, and we recommend against all but essential travel to, from and within Leicester.”
It is thought infection may have been spread among children, who rarely show symptoms for the disease but are thought to be efficient carriers of coronavirus.
“To be clear, children have very, very low risk of suffering from Covid themselves but we have been looking at the proportion of children who have tested positive and therefore may be transmitting the disease,” he said.
The health secretary told BBC Breakfast there had been “an unusually high incidence” of coronavirus found in children living in Leicester since increased testing began there 10 days ago.
The latest figures obtained by Leicester City Council showed that 3,216 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Leicester since the start of the epidemic. Of these, 944 cases were reported in the last two weeks.
“These figures include the number of patients and staff testing as positive in hospitals… and positive cases identified in testing centres,” the council said.