Spikes in coronavirus cases have seen Leeds, Middlesbrough, Corby, Kettering and South Tyneside all added to the government’s Covid-19 watchlist, with local lockdowns possible if the outbreaks are not controlled quickly.
The cities and towns are the latest to be added to Public Health England’s list of ‘areas of concern’, where its data shows the virus is spreading faster than average.
In Leeds, the council confirmed testing showed it now had 32.4 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people and 3.5 per cent of those tested were now coming back positive.
In addition, Norfolk, Rossendale in Lancashire, and Northampton have been designated ”areas of enhanced support” by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
These places will see extra testing capacity added in an effort to nip their own rising Covid-19 numbers in the bud.
Council officials in Leeds have warned the testing data shows the virus particularly spreading among younger people and urged residents not to take part in large gatherings or house parties.
If the rules are not followed the city could be the latest to be placed under renewed restrictions, the leader of Leeds City Council, said.
“We have been working tirelessly with our partners and communities, doing everything within our power to keep the spread of this virus under control and to ensure Leeds stays open.
“However, we can’t accomplish that alone and this rise in infection rates means that inevitably, our window of opportunity is shrinking by the day and the city is rapidly approaching a tipping point.”
Some cities and regions which have been living under local lockdowns are seeing the rules loosened, the DHSC also announced.
Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen, and Bradford will all join the situation in the rest of England with local pools, gyms and sports facilities permitted to re-open.
Other indoor businesses such as casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys and conferences centres can re-open from Tuesday next week in most of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
However, in Bolton, unlike other parts of Greater Manchester, all the current restrictions will remain as cases have not come down enough.
Newark and Sherwood, Slough, and Wakefield are all also being taken off the ‘areas of concern’ watchlist after their own coronavirus outbreaks subsided.