Preston to face local lockdown ‘within days’ as infection rate doubles in a week

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In the week ending July 30 more than 34 people per 100,000 were diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to just over 13 per 100,000 the previous week, Government data shows. People living in the Lancashire city, which has a population of 123,000, could be forced to obey a raft of strict new measures “within days”, the county’s director of public health Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said.

Since mid-June, Preston has jumped from 50th place to 10th place on the list of areas in England reporting the highest transmission rates.

The city ranks above multiple other Lancahsire towns which have already seen new restrictions slapped on including Burnley (16.9) and Hyndburn (17.3).

Dr Karunanithi said the rise in the number of fresh infections is “concerning”.

He told LancsLive: “The number of cases in Preston is higher than we would expect – the test positivity is increasing and is now around 3.4 percent, which puts it into a much more concerning category.

“If the rates don’t change in favour of Preston, there is no doubt that restrictions will be implemented.

“If the current pattern continues, then I would not be surprised if similar measures to those in East Lancashire are brought in within a matter of days.

“There is a weekly review led nationally by the Secretary of State.”

He said introducing new restrictions on public movement would be the only option public health officials had to curb the spread of the virus.

He said the current infection rate in Preston meant there was “little room for manoeuvre”.

Dr Karunanithi’s warning comes as Nicola Sturgeon announced a local lockdown in Aberdeen due to a “significant outbreak” of coronavirus.

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Bars, cafes and restaurants have been ordered to close as restrictions are reimposed.

Ms Sturgeon said 54 cases have now been reported in the outbreak.

The First Minister on Wednesday announced the tightening of restrictions across the Aberdeen City Council area over a coronavirus cluster in the city.

Extra police officers will be on the streets in Aberdeen to ensure residents comply with the reintroduced lockdown rules.

Residents should not enter each other’s homes or travel more than five miles from their place of residence.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “It’s really important that people follow the instructions and guidance from the Scottish Government.

“To support that, we will have additional patrols in Aberdeen, where local restrictions have been reintroduced.

“Our approach to these local restrictions will reflect the consistent approach taken by Police Scotland since the outset of this pandemic, and our officers will continue to engage, educate and encourage people to comply, as we all support the public health efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

“As a national service, Police Scotland is able to quickly flex capacity to support local communities across the country and we will provide whatever additional resources are necessary to protect and support the communities affected.”

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