Coronavirus: More than 100 outbreaks tackled a week, says Matt Hancock


An NHS alert message is seen on a street in Leicester

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Reuters

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Leicester was placed under local lockdown two weeks ago, following a rise in coronavirus cases

“Targeted action” is being taken against more than 100 local outbreaks of coronavirus every week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock said increased testing meant officials could now be “targeted” in their response.

His comments came after 73 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed at a farm in Herefordshire.

Around 200 workers have been told to self-isolate following the outbreak.

It is now two weeks since Mr Hancock announced Leicester would be the first city in the UK to be put under a local lockdown. Restrictions are expected to be reviewed this week.

But he has stressed that most measures to contain the coronavirus will not involve a whole city but instead would centre on a much smaller area, or even just one business or building – and he says these interventions often go unreported by the media and unnoticed by all except those directly involved.

The government strategy of targeted local responses whenever data suggests a coronavirus flare-up is a key part of its ongoing plan to reopen British businesses in different phases.

In the latest of these, beauty salons, spas, tattoo parlours and nail bars in the rest of England are welcoming back their first clients for almost four months, as national lockdown restrictions are eased.

In Scotland indoor shopping centres can reopen from Monday, while in Wales pubs, bars and restaurants can start serving customers outdoors and hairdressers can also reopen for business.

In his article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock said increased testing capacity meant the government could “take more targeted local action and less national lockdown”, allowing restrictions to be eased for the majority of the country.

“Each week there are more than 100 local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with,” he wrote.

Mr Hancock said England’s NHS Test and Trace service helped the government to understand how the virus is spreading “so we can hunt down coronavirus and keep it contained”.

The health secretary said there were now more than 250 testing centres and the government was also deploying a dozen walk-in testing centres in towns across the country.

“Where we find a cluster or outbreak, we send in extra testing, including mobile testing units that can be deployed anywhere in the country,” he added.

Clusters of cases in places like hospitals, factories or schools can also be dealt with by closing the premises.

This has already happened in several parts of the UK, including a hospital in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset and meat factories in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, and Wrexham and Anglesey.

Under the government’s testing strategy, anyone with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and get a test. If someone tests positive they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, which will then contact any close contacts who will also be told to self-isolate.

NHS Test and Trace only operates in England. Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland have their own contact tracing systems.

A further 650 coronavirus cases were reported across the UK on Sunday, according to the Department of Health.

The total number of people who have died with Covid-19 in the UK is now 44,819, a rise of 21 on the previous day – although figures tend to be lower at weekends because of reporting delays.



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