Local lockdown in Blackburn ‘a last resort’

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LONDON: A local lockdown in Blackburn with Darwen is “the very last resort” in tackling the area’s rise in coronavirus cases, its public health boss has said. The Lancashire borough is overtaking Leicester as England’s coronavirus hotspot, according to official figures. It recorded the highest infection rate, with 79.2 cases per 100,000 people, in the week up to 17 July, Public Health England said.

Prof Dominic Harrison said he would be “reluctant” to impose strict measures. The number of cases in the borough nearly doubled to 118 in the past week, compared with 63 the week before. The latest figures are subject to daily revision, but they reflect the position on Sunday night.

New measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Blackburn with Darwen have already been introduced after a spike.

They include tighter limits on visitors from another household, and officials have called on people to bump elbows in place of handshakes and hugs.

New cases in Leicester, where there is a local lockdown, have fallen to a rate of 77.7, with 276 new infections, compared with 429 the previous week. Most new cases in the Blackburn area have been among the south Asian community centred in terraced houses with a high number of occupants, public health officials have said.

Prof Harrison, public health director of Blackburn with Darwen Council, warned that cases would continue to rise.

He said: “We should be concerned the figures have gone up, but I entirely expected them to and I expect them to rise again this week.” Prof Harrison warned a local lockdown could be imposed if things were not turned around, but added: “We would only use those powers as a very, very last resort