More than 100 COVID-19 outbreaks being tackled each week, says Matt Hancock

Ross McGuinness
·3-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 5, 2020: Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the BBC before appearing on the Andrew Marr Show. London, Great Britain, 05 Jul 2020 David Nash / Barcroft Media- PHOTOGRAPH BY David Nash / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read David Nash/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Health secretary Matt Hancock said more than 100 local COVID-19 outbreaks are being tackled each week (Getty Images)

More than 100 outbreaks of COVID-19 are being tackled across the UK each week, the health secretary has revealed.

Matt Hancock said “targeted action” was being taken to halt the spread of coronavirus in such cases.

He said flare-ups are being dealt with "swiftly and silently", adding that increased local testing means officials can avoid imposing national measures.

His comments come after 73 cases of the virus were confirmed at a farm in Herefordshire, leading to about 200 workers being quarantined as a precautionary measure.

MATHON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 12 - JULY 12: A police officer wearing a surgical face mask stands at the entrance to AS Green and Co farm on July 12, 2020 in Mathon, Herefordshire. AS Green and Co, based in Mathon near Malvern, has said 73 of its 200 employees have COVID-19 following an outbreak there. Workers are being asked to isolate on the farm and stay within household groups to reduce the risk of spreading the virus within the workforce. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A police officer in a face mask stands outside AS Green and Co farm in Mathon, Herefordshire, where 200 workers have been quarantined after a COVID-19 outbreak. (Getty Images)

It is two weeks since Hancock announced Leicester would be the first city to be put under a local lockdown – restrictions he is expected to review later this week.

On Sunday, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon suggested she is considering the introduction of “border restrictions” for English visitors.

Last week, the World Health Organization reported a record daily number of new coronavirus cases around the world.

On Monday, nail bars, spas, tattoo parlours and beauty salons in England will be able to reopen as lockdown is eased further, nine days after pubs, cafes and restaurants welcomed back customers.

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Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hancock said: "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.

"This is thanks in large part to the incredible efforts of local authorities – all of whom have stepped up and published their local outbreak control plans in line with the end of June deadline."

He said officials will "hunt down the virus" by targeting areas of concern.

An increased testing capacity means the government can take "more targeted local action and less national lockdown" to allow the easing of measures for the majority of the country, he said.

The newspaper reported that door-to-door testing, which was utilised in the worst-hit areas of Leicester, is to be used more widely to curb outbreaks in the coming months.

MATHON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 12: A close-up of a sign at the entrance to the AS Green and Co farm on July 12, 2020 in Mathon, Herefordshire. AS Green and Co, based in Mathon near Malvern, has said 73 of its 200 employees have COVID-19 following an outbreak there. Workers are being asked to isolate on the farm and stay within household groups to reduce the risk of spreading the virus within the workforce. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
The entrance to the AS Green and Co farm in Mathon, Herefordshire, where 73 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. (Getty Images)

Portable walk-in centres will also be stationed in areas where there is a flare-up of the virus.

On Sunday, Public Health England Midlands and Herefordshire Council said about 200 employees at vegetable producer AS Green and Co were put into lockdown following an outbreak among the workforce.

Some 73 workers tested positive for the virus, leading to the whole group of workers, who live in shared accommodation at Rook Row Farm, to be isolated together as "one extended bubble".

The council said it is arranging food and essential supplies for residents on the site while they self-isolate.

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