Birmingham is today on the Government’s national watch list amid mounting concern about its infection rates.
The city is deemed an area requiring “enhanced support” to help it tackle rising coronavirus rates, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The list, announced weekly, highlights areas of concern across the country where coronavirus is making a comeback and also signals which places could face restrictive new ‘lockdown’ measures.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“To prevent a second peak and keep Covid-19 under control, we need robust, targeted intervention where we see a spike in cases. The only way we can keep on top of this deadly virus is through decisive action led by the people who know their areas best, wherever possible through consensus with a local area.
“Our approach is to make the action we take as targeted as possible, with the maximum possible local consensus.”
Cases of COVID-19 are rising quickly in Birmingham, with 30.2 cases per 100,000 and the percentage of people testing positive up to 4.3 per cent.
Over half of cases in the last week have been within the 18 to 34 age demographic.
The Health Secretary said: “Local leaders and the government have therefore agreed initially to make Birmingham an ‘Area of Enhanced Support’ meaning the area will benefit from additional testing, locally led contract tracing and targeted community engagement.
“Further discussions with local leaders are taking place to understand what additional measures should be taken to help manage the outbreak. The Secretary of State will hold a meeting with local council leaders and the Mayor of the West Midlands today to discuss urgent next steps.”
Talks have been taking place between local leaders at the city council, the mayor Andy Street and the Health Secretary all week to work out how best to proceed.
As our story today illustrates, the clusters are spread out – with current hotspots in Handsworth, Bordesley, Hodge Hill and Birchfield.
Follow our live blog today as we help make sense of what this means for Birmingham.