"Clearly of concern": South Yorkshire areas with high rates of new coronavirus cases at risk of further outbreak

A top professor who specialises in infectious diseases has spoken about how towns with high numbers of new coronavirus cases are “clearly of concern” when it comes to considering outbreaks and local lockdown measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 9:20 pm

Lockdown measures are set to ease on Saturday (July 4) across most of the country, however in a number of areas across England the number of new cases being confirmed is on the rise.

One of these towns is Doncaster, where the Department of Health and Social Care reported that the number of new cases confirmed rose from 11 in the week to June 19 to 32 last week.

Two more people in Doncaster hospitals died after testing positive for coronavirus today and Public Health England figures that include tests in laboratories and in the community report that there were 17.4 new cases per every 100,000 people in Doncaster in the week ending June 21 – within the highest 25 of all English local authorities.

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Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP DRI MC 2

Elsewhere in South Yorkshire the new cases rate is even higher. Barnsley has 54.7 new cases for every 100,000 people, and Rotherham has 33.6.

Doncaster’s Director for Public Health Dr Rupert Suckling has said that there is no risk of Doncaster going into a local lockdown, amid reports to the contrary.

This morning Imperial College London's Professor Neil Ferguson spoke to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the potential for further outbreaks.

He said: "It's inevitable we will (have further local outbreaks). We are relaxing lockdown rules and that means that contacts in the population are going up and that's a very variable process.

Asked about Doncaster, he said: "Those are areas, where not as high as Leicester, but they have some of the highest numbers of cases per 100,000 of the population, which is the relevant measure, so they're clearly of concern."

Yesterday (June 30) Leicester became the first area to have a local lockdown confirmed, and it will remain under strict lockdown restrictions for an extra two weeks beyond July 4.

This means that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers, as well as other business that can open on July 4 elsewhere in the country, must remain closed.