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The central English city of Leicester could be the country’s first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said Sunday.
The Midlands city recorded 658 new cases in the two weeks up to June 16, many linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants.
Patel told the BBC that there have been “flare-ups across the country in recent weeks, in just the last three or four weeks in particular”.
“For local outbreaks, it is appropriate to have local solutions in terms of infection control, social distancing, screening and many tools,” she added.
“There will be support going into Leicester.”
Reports in the Sunday Times newspaper said the government was set to reimpose strict lockdown rules on Leicester “within the next few days”.
Leicester’s population stands at around 340,000 people, according to official figures.
Lockdown restrictions set to ease
The news comes at a worrying time for the UK, a country badly affected by the pandemic.
Boris Johnson‘s government is set to ease lockdown restrictions from July 4 — despite fears of a second wave of infections — by opening pubs, restaurants and hairdressers among others across England.
In the last few days, Britain has seen tens of thousands of people ignore social distancing rules to flood the beaches and hold street parties. Liverpool fans also crowded that city after their football club won the Premier League.
Leading medical experts warned earlier this month of the “real risk” of a second coronavirus wave this winter.
“I think nothing would be more damaging for our country, for our economy if we do have a second wave,” Patel said.
More than 43,500 people have died due to the coronavirus in Britain, official figures show.