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Britain’s first local lockdown has been imposed in Leicester by the government after a surge in coronavirus cases in the city.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said schools and non-essential retail shops will have to close again, while existing anti-coronavirus measures would be extended for at least two weeks longer than the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has called the pandemic a “disaster” for the UK and made it clear he wants to boost infrastructure spending to help the economy.
Globally, the death toll for Covid-19 has topped half a million, while more than 10 million people have tested positive for the virus.
“It’s not just increased testing, it’s a higher prevalence in Leicester,” says Mr Hancock.
He says that the number of cases reported in Leicester is three times more than the next highest area for cases.
Mr Hancock says he will be using powers under a statutory instrument being brought forward “imminently”.
“We must control this virus, we must keep people safe.”
“We will keep all these measures under review” – with first review in two weeks.
The measures will also apply to the “surrounding conurbation” around Leicester, says Mr Hancock.
The relaxation of shielding measures set for 6 July has also been postponed in Leicester.
“We cannot recommend that the easing of the national lockdown set for 4 July should happen in Leicester,” says Matt Hancock.
Non-essential retail shops will have to close on Tuesday, and schools will have to close from Thursday he adds.
Four mobile testing units have already been deployed in the city, along with home testing kits.
Leicester accounts for around 10 per cent of all positive cases in the country in the past week, he adds.
“Unfortunately while cases in most parts of the country have fallen since the peak, in Leicester they have continued to rise.”
Matt Hancock says coronavirus is now in decline at a national level, allowing the easing of restrictions.
He says local action has previously been taken in response to clusters of cases at a meat processing plant and GP surgeries.
Health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to make a statement on the government’s decision to impose a ‘local lockdown’ in Leicester due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
In practice it may simply mean that current restrictions would continue as they are now in the city for another two weeks, while the rest of England sees the reopening of pubs, restaurants, churches and other venues such as beauty salons and swimming pools from 4 July.
Pharmaceutical company Gilead Science Inc has set a price of $2,340 (£1,900) for a course of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which helps to shorten hospital recovery times for Covid-19.
Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O’Day said the price is well below the value it provides given that early hospital discharges could save around $12,000 per patient in the United States.
However Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas, said it was “an outrageous price for a very modest drug, which taxpayer funding saved from a scrap heap of failures.”
Landlord groups are calling for an end to a ban on evictions brought in to stop people being made homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.
Iran has reported 162 deaths from coronavirus, its highest figure for a 24-hour period.
Today’s figure exceeds the previous record on 4 April, when the health ministry reported 158 deaths in a day.
The number of new daily infections and deaths has increased sharply in the last week following the gradual lifting of restrictions that began in mid-April.
The Islamic Republic recorded a total of 10,670 deaths and 225,205 infections from the novel coronavirus.
Yesterday Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced that masks will become mandatory in some gathering places from 5 July.
Whole year groups are to be banned from mixing under plans for enormous ‘mega bubbles’ containing hundreds of pupils expected to be announced later this week.
Entire secondary school years would be separated, with different start and finish times and no contact in the playground, under the guidance designed to allow schools re-open fully in September.
The number of reported cases of Covid-19 in Ireland has begun to increase, the chief medical officer has warned, as pubs served pints indoors for the first time in three months.
Dr Tony Holohan said: “We are starting to see a worrying trend, with the number of reported cases increasing, and some new clusters.”
Bars, hairdressers, gyms, pools, cinemas and churches were also able to welcome people as the government eased restrictions on Monday.
There were queues outside several salons and barbers first thing as people finally got the chance to get their lockdown growth cut.
Boris Johnson’s “go it alone bravado” on Brexit will make it harder for the UK to rebuild its economy after the coronavirus pandemic, Labour has said.
The opposition party has criticised government’s decision to leave Eurofound, a respected EU employment agency that is studying the impact of coronavirus on jobs and the economy.
President Donald Trump believes the decision to wear a mask to help prevent spreading the deadly coronavirus, currently infecting record numbers of people in many places in the United States, is personal, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday.
“Its his choice to wear a mask. It’s the personal choice of any individual as to whether to wear a mask or not,” Ms McEnany said, when asked about a new mandate to wear masks in Jacksonville, Florida, where part of the Republican nominating convention will be held.
“He encourages people to make whatever decision is best for their safety. But he did say to me he has no problem with masks and to do whatever your local jurisdiction requests.”
The Covid-19 pandemic is not even close to being over, World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Monday.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. Although many countries have made some progress globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up,” Mr Tedros said.
The global body was planning to convene a meeting this week to assess progress in research towards fighting the disease.
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