Warning major UK city may be in lockdown by end of week after coronavirus surge

Warnings have been raised Birmingham could be in lockdown by the end of the week after a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.

NHS figures show Britain’s second city has seen its coronavirus infection rate more than double in a week to 62.4 cases per 100,000, compared to 28.1 the seven days before.

The city narrowly avoided a restrictive local lockdown, like those in Leicester and Greater Manchester, just two weeks ago after an increase in cases.

At the time, its infection rate was just over 30 cases per 100,000 people, although it later fell.

But West Midlands mayor Andy Street said in light of the "very notable increase" in positive tests in both Birmingham and neighbouring Solihull, further restrictions were now "very, very likely".

He said the "simplest form of restriction would be city-wide".

Public health and city chiefs have grown increasingly worried in recent days by the surge in cases.

The city’s public health director Dr Justin Varney admitted he was concerned by the "significant" uplift in numbers.

Birmingham City Council, which has opened more test sites across the city in recent days, believes part of the reason is down to increasing testing numbers.

However, the jump in the rate also coincided with the bank holiday weekend and the city recording its largest single coronavirus outbreak.

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Mr Street said the increase was ”in the context of a deteriorating national position".

He blamed it on ”a result of socialising and household contact", including mixing in homes.

Cases are "very much concentrated in the younger age groups, so the under-40s”, he added.

But he warned it will spread to older people and “more vulnerable groups” if “we don’t stop this”.

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The city mayor added: “The critical message is everybody has a responsibility to follow the guidance.

"If they do not follow the guidance, we will of course be subject to very stringent restrictions preventing people enjoying the things they've been looking forward to.

"The younger population have got to take responsibility, think about their parents and grandparents."

The city had already been added to the national Public Health England (PHE) watchlist of areas of concern.

Dr Sue Ibbotson, West Midlands PHE centre director, last week said the region was at a "pivotal moment".

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