British Health Minister Matt Hancock has said that new, unspecified legal changes will be implemented in order to enforce the localized lockdown in the city of Leicester in the face of a particularly severe coronavirus outbreak.
The city has witnessed a surge in infections in the past month, with Leicester alone accounting for roughly 10 percent of all positive cases in the UK last week, according to figures published Monday. The city’s infection rate is three times higher than the next hardest-hit cities, but authorities do not yet understand why the outbreak has been so severe.
“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,” Hancock said Tuesday, adding that authorities are particularly concerned by the number of children testing positive for coronavirus.
“The risk to children themselves is very low but, of course, children can still transmit,” Hancock added, explaining the “heavy hearted” decision to close schools in the area.
Leicester is the first part of the UK to face a targeted local lockdown amid the easing of restrictions elsewhere in the country beginning on July 4. However, local authorities are bemused by the lack of specific information on what the lockdown will actually entail and how exactly they are expected to enforce it.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby dismissed suggestions that there would be police roadblocks but added that there has been no guidance on where exactly the lockdown boundary exists, joking that it might simply be three miles north and south of the city center for all he knows.
“Whether it’s a blue line on a map or a radius from the clock tower, we all need to know and as yet we don’t,” Soulsby said, adding that the local council doesn’t have the resources to enforce a lockdown itself.
The UK has recorded over 43,500 confirmed Covid-19 deaths amid one of the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus in the Western world.
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