Fears Swindon will be plunged into lockdown as it has highest coronavirus rate in south England – but Leicester reopens

FEARS are growing that Swindon could be the next town to be hit with lockdown — as it has the highest covid rates in the south of England.

Ministers are worried after 43 people tested positive in the Wiltshire town last week.

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And they fear the surge in cases will require North West style special measures.

Public Health England’s latest data has Swindon as the 5th highest infection rate with 48.2 cases per 100,000 and list the area as one of concern.

That is the highest in the south of England however the local council insist that the outbreak is under control, and that enforcement of lockdown measures would be a “last resort”.

But a Health department source said the town was in “the danger zone.”

Health workers are patrolling with information and the mobile testing units have been set up.

A council spokesman said: “Public health colleagues are doing a fantastic job in responding to multiple small outbreaks across the town in an effort to break the chain of infection and keep all Swindon residents safe.”

At the weekend Swindon South MP Robert Buckland said the council was “working tirelessly” to help prevent a community-based outbreak.

 

 

The concerns came as Leicester was finally freed from lockdown measures slapped on in June.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock said coronavirus cases remain too high to ease all the restrictions in the city.

Nail bars, beauty salons and tanning booths can reopen from Wednesday, while guidance telling outdoor music venues and theatres to stay closed will be dropped.

But residents in the lockdown area will not be able to meet inside a private home or garden of someone they have not formed a “support bubble” with.

The easing will bring the city into line with the easing of restrictions introduced for much of the nation on July 11 and 13.

Mr Hancock said: “My gratitude goes out to the people of Leicester who have all made sacrifices to keep the virus at bay and protect their local communities.

“The rate of infection has now dropped to a safe enough level to allow further businesses including beauty salons, nail bars and some outdoor venues to reopen in the area.

“Current restrictions on gatherings must remain in place to further bring down the rate of infection.”

Spas, massage and tattoo parlours, and body and skin piercing services will also be able to reopen on Wednesday morning.

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said infection rates are still too high for a full easing, so restrictions on gatherings will continue in line with Greater Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire and east Lancashire.

Shielding for the most vulnerable will continue but with easing in Leicester to allow individuals to meet in a group of up to six people outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

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