Birmingham added to coronavirus 'watch list' as Northampton becomes 'area of intervention'

21 August 2020, 14:31

Birmingham has been placed on the government's coronavirus watchlist
Birmingham has been placed on the government's coronavirus watchlist. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

Birmingham has been added to the UK government's coronavirus watchlist, with Northampton upgraded to being an "area of intervention" following an increase in cases in the area.

The UK's second largest city has been categorised as an "area of enhanced support".

There have been fears that the area, which is now registering more individual cases than anywhere in the UK, could enter a local lockdown if current infection rates continue.

Northampton is now an "area of intervention" following a spike in cases in the area, including an outbreak at Greencore sandwich factory, which supplies Marks & Spencer.

Hundreds of workers tested positive at the facility, which is now closed. 

Slough, in Berkshire, is also now an "area of concern" after a rise in coronavirus cases, Public Health England has revealed.

Other places included on the watchlist are Oldham, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle, Leicester, Bradford, Manchester, Rochdale, Hyndburn, Calderdale, Preston, Burnley, Kirklees, Salford, Tameside, Bury, Trafford, Bolton, Stockport, Luton, Swindon, Newark and Sherwood, Sandwell, Oadby and Wigston, Wakefield and Peterborough.

It comes after the UK's 'R rate' rose above one.

A Greencore factory in Northampton had a coronavirus outbreak
A Greencore factory in Northampton had a coronavirus outbreak (file image). Picture: PA

Following the announcement, Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward said: “If we don’t follow the basic health advice... we will face more tragedy in the weeks and months ahead.

"More people will fall seriously ill, there will be more deaths and our economy will face another hammer blow, when it needs all the support it can get."

The city currently has a coronavirus infection rate of 29.1 per 100,000 people.

Northampton's rate is currently at 78.4, with Slough's at 11.4.

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The news comes as Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn escaped full lockdowns but households will be banned from socialising all settings, the health secretary has announced.

Matt Hancock said the tough new restrictions were necessary to significantly reduce the Covid-19 infection rate in areas of Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

From midnight on Saturday, local residents in the three areas will be asked not to socialise with anyone from outside their household in any setting, but shops and workplaces will remain open.

The new rules do not prevent people from going shopping, going to work or attending child-care settings including schools, but it does mean any social activities can only be shared with people from the same household.

However, restrictions in Wigan, Rossendale and Darwen have been fully eased in line with the rest of England.

Friday's announcement stopped short of a localised lockdown, which Oldham's council leader Sean Fielding had earlier this week warned could be "catastrophic" for businesses.

He tweeted: "We have reached agreement with the Government that Oldham will not go in to full local economic lockdown. Some additional restrictions will be introduced, however."