Easing Leicester's lockdown is a "good experiment" for the future, says virologist

16 July 2020, 19:13 | Updated: 16 July 2020, 19:18

By Fiona Jones

Virologist Dr Chris Smith tells LBC that easing Leicester's lockdown is a "good experiment" for future local lockdowns.

The lockdown in Leicester will be eased after a drop in coronavirus cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Speaking in the Commons he announced that some restrictions would be lifted from 24 July but pubs and restaurants will remain closed.

Leicester's infection rate has decreased from 135 coronavirus cases per 100,000 to 119 cases per 100,000 since entering local lockdown, figures show - which Eddie remarked was not a drastic decrease.

Virologist Dr Chris Smith explained that while this is only a 10% decrease, these numbers are "retrospective" as there is a delay before a person presents symptoms and tests positive.

"For that reason they probably are looking at the direction of travel, the trend, the gradient at which the rates are falling and they're saying well in a weeks time it will be this...for that reason we feel able to open up some aspects of society but we're going to keep a lid on others.

"I think that's probably where they're coming from which is why I think they've narrowed the area to where the action is hottest and haven't opened up everything comprehensively yet."

Dr Chris told Eddie the move to ease parts of Leicester's lockdown is a good idea as fundamentally the city "amounts to a big experiment" as the Government will "try things, see how much they get from one intervention or another and then you adjust accordingly."

He said with the UK's drop in coronavirus cases, there is some "room for manoeuvre" to do these sorts of experiments with minimum impact.

"It's important we do treat this as a learning exercise and not a heartless bit of science," Dr Chris said, "the sooner we learn how best to manage it the quicker we will be as these sorts of things become a bit more numerous. Especially with winter approaching."