Labour council leader calls for 'immediate' London lockdown
Labour leader of Redbridge council calls for ‘immediate’ London lockdown after revealing true picture of covid cases in his borough could be WORSE because of 44% drop in testing capacity
- Jas Athwal, 57, made the plea after it was revealed his borough has most cases
- Councillor said: ‘Certainly mixing face to face should be stopped immediately’
- Comes just two days after London Mayor urged PM to outlaw house visits
A Labour council leader today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families.
Jas Athwal, the leader of Redbridge Borough Council, made the plea after it was revealed that his borough and four others in east London saw a spike in cases last week which led to the capital being placed on the Government’s Covid watchlist.
It comes just two days after London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections.
London was last week placed on the national lockdown watchlist due to a spike in coronavirus cases and hospital admissions, with Government advisors warning the capital’s R rate may now be as high as 1.5.
Jas Athwal, the Labour leader of Redbridge Borough Council, today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families
This is the same level seen in the North West, North East and the Midlands, which have all been stung by additional Covid-19 measures.
Mr Athwal, 57, said that Redbridge had the most overcrowded houses in London and its town of Ilford saw most of the new coronavirus cases.
He added that the picture in his borough could be much worse than imagined because of a ’44 per cent drop in testing capacity’ due to national laboratories not being able to cope with the number of tests they’re receiving.
While speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the Labour leader said: ‘We’ve got to start looking at what everybody else is doing – should we be allowing different households to mix?
‘Quite clearly I think in overcrowded parts of London we’ve got to look at bringing that in so that different households can’t mix and we should be able to do this at the time of a national emergency.’
Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections
He added that meeting face to face should be stopped ‘immediately’.
‘We should be able to speak on Zoom or social media but certainly mixing face to face should be stopped immediately because there are problems and we’re seeing the pandemic take hold and it’s only going to get worse with the flu season coming into play as well,’ he said.
While the BBC has reported that Redbridge had 68 cases per 100,000 people over the last week, Mr Athwal believes the figure was 58.6.
Mr Athwal also warned of a 44 per cent fall in testing in London between August and September and how that could mask the severity of soaring infections.
Britain’s coronavirus R rate could now be as high as 1.5, government scientific advisers warned on Friday after rises in all regions of the country
He said: ‘A testing centre in the heart of Ilford was testing 700 to 800 people a day and it’s one of the biggest centres in London.
‘However recently it’s only been testing 100 to 150 people per day because of capacity issues at the national laboratory so what we’re seeing is the numbers go down and of course if you’re losing that kind of capacity the figures are going to be distorted and they’re probably going to be a lot worse than what we’re being shown across the whole of London.’
WHAT AREAS ARE ON THE MOST RECENT WATCHLIST?
The most recent watchlist, published last Friday, included:
INTERVENTION (number of infections recorded up to September 15 for every 100,000 people living there)
BOLTON – 212.7
BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN – 122.9
OADBY AND WIGSTON – 119.2
HYNDBURN – 117.6
PRESTON – 105.1
WARRINGTON – 105.0
TAMESIDE – 103.5
SUNDERLAND – 103.1
OLDHAM – 98.9
BIRMINGHAM – 98.0
BRADFORD – 97.5
LIVERPOOL – 95.8
WIRRAL – 95.6
BURNLEY – 93.8
KNOWSLEY – 92.9
ST HELENS – 91.6
BURY – 90.5
SALFORD – 88.8
LEICESTER – 86.7
SOUTH TYNESIDE – 86.5
ROCHDALE – 84.1
MANCHESTER – 83.6
GATESHEAD – 77.5
SOLIHULL – 77.2
SANDWELL – 72.1
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE – 69.6
PENDLE – 61.3
HALTON – 60.7
KIRKLEES – 60.4
WOLVERHAMPTON – 60.3
CALDERDALE – 59.5
ROSSENDALE – 57.8
SOUTH RIBBLE – 52.5
SEFTON – 49.0
NORTH TYNESIDE – 48.5
WEST LANCASHIRE – 47.4
COUNTY DURHAM – 46.7
TRAFFORD – 45.7
CHORLEY – 35.1
WYRE – 34.2
FYLDE – 28.8
NORTHUMBERLAND – 24.7
LANCASTER – 22.9
RIBBLE VALLEY – 18.3
LEEDS – 75.5
BLABY – 65.7
STOCKPORT – 48.7
SELBY – 65.1
HARTLEPOOL – 55.8
SHEFFIELD – 53.7
SPELTHORNE – 53.4
CORBY – 50.8
MIDDLESBROUGH – 47.0
NORTHAMPTON – 42.6
SCARBOROUGH – 42.3
HERTSMERE – 37.4
PETERBOROUGH – 30.3
STOKE-ON-TRENT – 27.4
Mr Khan said: ‘It beggars belief. We all knew that in September there would be a greater need for testing,’ he added. ‘I’m really angry. It’s another example of lessons not being learned. You can explain the delay, incompetence in March. There’s no excuse now.’
When asked about the efficacy of the new measures that come into affect today – such as being able to fine people up to £10,000 for failing to self-isolate when necessary – Mr Athwal said: ‘Most definitely, I’m just wondering why it’s taken so long.’
He added: ‘I’ve heard cases of people who’ve tested positive and stopped at the airport still trying to get out of the country trying to travel. e
‘Certainly we’ve had cases where people have taken tests and they’re still going to work because they haven’t had a result. Surely logic dictates that if you’ve had a test what you should be doing is going straight home to isolate until you’ve have a result.
‘And of course there’s not really been any control over people who’ve tested positive to stay at home and some of these people have been known just simply to pop out to go to get something that they need.
‘I think these fines will certainly deter people but we needed them much sooner.
‘Because the businesses and residents had a lot of help like furlough payments and business grants but equally we’ve all got to do our bit and the way to do our bit is to isolate and make sure we stop the spread from getting any worse.’
Mr Khan’s proposed rules include a ban on households mixing at home in London, a measure which has already been imposed in Scotland, Wales and several parts of England.
Around 17million Britons are living under tougher coronavirus restrictions than the rest of nation after health chiefs yesterday confirmed extra measures for those living in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool, Leeds and parts of Wales.
The decision to impose further localised restrictions came as another 5,693 people tested positive for the virus and another 17 deaths were announced on Sunday.
The increase brings the UK’s total cases to 434,969.
But the capital’s outbreak appears to have plateaued since spiking at the start of September, when taking into account separate data that analyses when positive samples were actually taken, not recorded.
It can take suspected patients several days to get their test results back.
Hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the rolling average rising from 11 on September 2 to 34.7 by September 19.
It comes after officers were last week spotted visiting London pubs to turf out drinkers at 10pm after the City of Westminster ‘fun police’ peered through letterboxes looking for lock-ins, following the Prime Minister’s latest lockdown measures.
Authorities were pictured at a bar on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, west London, booting people out as the curfew kicked in on Thursday.
Council inspectors have been peering through letterboxes and windows in an effort to track down pubs and clubs holding lock-ins past the curfew.
Restrictions currently in place throughout England ban venues from being open after 10pm to try and slow down the spread of Covid-19 infections.
Meanwhile, swathes of towns in the North of England and parts of Wales will be hit with local lockdowns tonight in a bid to curb spiralling infections.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Wigan and Stockport are to have local restrictions that apply to the rest of Greater Manchester reintroduced.
The Manchester towns were previously removed from restrictions on meeting with people in homes and private gardens after the infection rate fell in the boroughs.
The case rate in Wigan currently stands at over 106 cases per 100,000, whilst Stockport has 71 cases per 100,000. From midnight tonight, residents will be banned from mixing indoors or in gardens with people outside their immediate household.
The same raft of measures have also been announced in Leeds and Blackpool – which now follows Lancashire in being placed under local lockdown restrictions, having escaped the measures last Friday.
Rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 in hotspot areas in England
In Burnley, 228 new cases were recorded in the seven days to September 23 – the equivalent of 256.4 per 100,000 people.
Burnley has the highest rate in England, up from 145.1 in the seven days to September 16.
Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 131.1 to 243.8 with 1,214 new cases.
Knowsley is in third place, where the rate has risen from 132.6 to 241.9, with 365 new cases.
Other areas recording sharp increases in their seven-day rates include:
- Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 87.2 to 228.8, with 693 new cases)
- Pendle (up from 97.7 to 203.0 with 187 new cases)
- Sunderland (up from 78.9 to 180.0, with 500 new cases)
- Halton (up from 125.2 to 214.0 with 277 new cases)
- Sefton (up from 74.2 to 162.8, with 450 new cases)
Dozens of areas across England which have seen Covid-19 infection rates spiral over the past month are currently on the watchlist, which is updated every Friday.
Authorities are separated into three different categories based on how quickly outbreaks are growing.
Local restrictions are imposed in areas carrying the ‘intervention’ tag, while more testing is made available for boroughs listed as being of ‘concern’ and more detailed plans to control cases are made for areas under ‘enhanced support’.
It comes as figures buried in a 188-page document suggested almost 75,000 people could die from non-Covid causes as a result of lockdown.
The startling research, presented to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), will further increase pressure on Boris Johnson to hold back on introducing further coronavirus restrictions.
The document reveals 16,000 people died as a result of the chaos in hospitals and care homes in March and April alone.
And an additional 31,900 could die over the next five years as a result of missed cancer diagnoses, cancelled operations and the health impacts of a recession.
The toll of deaths directly linked to the virus last night stood at 41,936.
The estimates, drawn up by civil servants at the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, were presented to Sage at a meeting on July 15.
The documents stressed that had nothing been done to stop the spread of the virus in March, 400,000 people could have died of Covid.
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