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Government will take ‘draconian steps’ to stem coronavirus outbreaks

Boris Johnson said he had always made it clear he would take “draconian steps” to “put on the brakes” where there were flare-ups of coronavirus.

Speaking in Dudley, the Prime Minister defended the NHS Test and Trace system.

He said: “We are testing now almost double per head what most other European countries are doing.

“We have got a testing capacity of 280,000 a day and testing is a huge part of that whack-a-mole strategy and will continue to be intensified.”

The PM said: “I think most people across the country do understand, and do remember that as we come out of this I always said that there were going to be local flare-ups, and that we will deal with them locally – and that’s what we are doing in Leicester, and we will do it elsewhere.

“It worked in places like Ashford, or Weston-Super-Mare, in Leicester it’s gone out more into the community and we need to take the steps that we have.”


Fresh lockdown measures in Leicester ‘very disruptive’, MP says

Neil O’Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston on the outskirts of Leicester, called the new lockdown  “very disruptive and everyone wishes it wasn’t happening” but welcomed the measures to help slow the area’s outbreak.

When asked whether he thought people would stick to the rules as other areas open up, Mr O’Brien told the PA news agency: “I think that people in Leicester and Leicestershire have got good common sense, they have been told that there is a deadly virus in danger of taking off in the city and I think that people will respect that and respond to it.”

On why the area was experiencing high levels of cases, Mr O’Brien said: “I haven’t seen a clear or definitive explanation for why Leicester is as badly affected as it is, there are probably a lot of different factors in play. We will be trying to get to the bottom of it obviously.”

He added: “Leicester like a lot of other places that have had severe outbreaks has a lot of multi-generational households.

“That creates a risk because you have older vulnerable people living with working people so we need to take extra care in Leicester and Leicestershire.”


Boris Johnson sets out a ‘new deal’ for Britain…


Boris Johnson: ‘We will double down on levelling up’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “this moment also gives us a much greater chance to be radical”.

“And to do things differently,” he added.

“To build back better and to build back bolder.

“And so we will be doubling down on our strategy.

“We will double down on levelling up – if you can make sense of that.”


Next week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out the Government’s “immediate plan” to support the economy through the first phase of the country’s recovery, Boris Johnson said.


Nation must act now to plan response to coronavirus crisis, Boris Johnson says

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the nation must act now in “this interval” to plan the response to the coronavirus crisis and fix the problems “most brutally illuminated in that Covid lightning flash”.

He said: “We all knew when we went into lockdown that there would be huge economic costs, we could see what would happen and yet we did it, the United Kingdom, in a display of solidarity not seen since the Second World War.

“And so today we must combine that energy and drive and that concentrated burst of collective willpower that protected the NHS and controlled the virus and saved literally hundreds of thousands of lives and we must work fast because we’ve already seen the vertiginous drop in GDP and we know that people are worried now about their jobs and their businesses.

“And we’re waiting as if between the flash of lightning and the thunderclap with our hearts in our mouths for the full economic reverberations to appear.

“And so we must use this moment now, this interval to plan our response and to fix of course the problems that were most brutally illuminated in that Covid lightning flash.”

He listed these as the social care system and the parts of Government “that seemed to respond so sluggishly”.


Boris Johnson delivers keynote speech in West Midlands

Boris Johnson has said Britain needs to be able to move with “levels of energy and speed that we have not needed for generations” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Delivering a keynote speech at a technical college in Dudley, the Prime Minister said: “It may seem a bit premature to make a speech now about Britain after Covid when that deceptively nasty disease is still rampant in other countries and when global case numbers are growing fast.

“And when many in this country are nervous, rightly, about more outbreaks – whether national or local – like the flareup in Leicester.

“Where, as I promised, we are putting on the breaks, and I thank the people of Leicester for their forbearance.

“And yet we cannot continue simply to be prisoners of this crisis. We are preparing now, slowly, cautiously, to come out of hibernation and I believe it is absolutely vital for us to set out the way ahead so that everyone can think and plan for the future: short, medium and long-term.

“Because if the Covid crisis has taught us one thing: it’s that this country needs to be ready for what may be coming, and we need to be able to move with levels of energy and speed that we have not needed for generations.”


A Leicester woman living with incurable cancer has said she is “gutted” that the city’s new lockdown means she will not be able to see her mother for the first time in 17 weeks…


Speaking in Dudley, West Midlands, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the people of Leicester for their “forbearance” in dealing with the new coronavirus restrictions.


Labour demands press conference from Matt Hancock to clear up confusion over Leicester lockdown

Labour has demanded that Health Secretary Matt Hancock holds a press conference this afternoon to answer questions and clear up confusion over the lockdown restrictions imposed on Leicester.

His shadow counterpart Jonathan Ashworth, who is the MP for Leicester South, said the Government’s response has left people “anxious and confused”.

“We support the Government’s decision to reintroduce lockdown restrictions. However, there are a number of outstanding questions about how the Government intends to implement these restrictions and get the outbreak back under control,” he said.

Mr Ashworth said: “There is confusion about essential travel and what it means for people who travel to work outside the boundaries. There is also no clarity about what extra resources will be put in place to increase testing capacity and what financial support will be available to businesses.

“The Government must take firm leadership on this. This is the first local lockdown. People in Leicester – and across the country – are looking for ministers to take responsibility for this issue.

“Number 10 said the afternoon press conferences would now only take place if the Government had ‘something really important to say’.

“We believe the situation in Leicester meets that criteria. That is why I am urging the Health Secretary to hold a press conference this afternoon and give the public the answers and reassurance they deserve.”


Piers Morgan has slammed Health Secretary Matt Hancock for comments he made about Covid-19 tests during a BBC interview…


Coronavirus has created new set of diseases which pose challenges, health boss says

Royal College of Physicians president Professor Andrew Goddard told the Health Committee that Covid-19 has created a new set of diseases which pose a challenge, particularly for the respiratory and rehabilitation medicine sectors of the health system.

He stated that the workforce is “really tired at the moment” and everyone in the medical profession is worried about whether there will be increased pressure in winter.

Prof Goddard told the MPs: “We could be hit with a double whammy of a big flu season and a big second wave from Covid and so how much that is going to impact on our ability to catch up where we have fallen behind during Covid is perhaps people’s biggest concerns.”

He added: “I think this mountain that people know they have to climb and are willing to climb – that seems like quite a large mountain at the moment and worry about ‘is the peak going to get higher come winter?’ is a big one.”


Government must learn from Leicester lockdown and act faster next time, MP says

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, said the Government must learn from the lockdown and act faster to tackle local outbreaks in future.

She told Sky News: “There’s some lessons to be learnt here, because I fear that this may not be the last local outbreak.

“(The Government) has got to be quicker, they’ve got to give detailed local information to people on the ground who know their communities, who know the work places, and how people behave, because that is how we’re really going to stop the spread of this virus and keep a lid on it.”

She added: “If you want people to stick with the rules you’ve got to be really open and engage with them properly, and I think the Government could improve on that.”


Leicester MP supports lockdown, but ‘desperately worried’ about schools and businesses closing

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, said she supports the local lockdown which began in the city on Tuesday, though she is “desperately worried” about schools and businesses closing.

Speaking on Sky News, the Labour MP said questions still remain about the details of the restrictions and whether the Government will be providing additional support for businesses which have been forced to close.

Ms Kendall said: “There are lots of questions and I’m getting lots of emails from constituents.

“People who live in the city, but work in the country – can they still go to work?

“Businesses who were desperately looking forward to opening again, are they going to get extra support? Will people be able to be furloughed for longer?”

She added she hopes the Government will work closely with local leaders to plan the city’s recovery.


Deaths above average in five regions of England

Five regions of England had deaths above the five-year average in the week ending June 19, while four regions were below, the ONS said.

The regions where the number of registered deaths was above the five-year average were East Midlands (6.6% higher), Yorkshire and the Humber (3.6%), London (2.3%), north-east England (1.6%) and the West Midlands (0.1%).

The four regions with fewer deaths were south-west England (3.5% below), north-west England (3.7% below), south-east England (3.8% below) and eastern England (6.8% below).

In Wales, the number of deaths registered in the week to June 19 was 7.7% above the five-year average.


‘We need clear plan for regular testing of NHS staff’

A health boss has urged the Government to give a clear plan for regular testing of NHS staff.

Speaking at the Health and Social Care Committee, Chris Hopson, chief executive at NHS Providers, said staff were sent a letter on April 29 by Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive officer of NHS England, stating that there was an intention for regular staff testing as quickly possible.

“I don’t feel like we are in an entirely satisfactory position,” he told the committee.

“Our trusts felt that two months ago there was a commitment that we’d get to regular staff testing as quickly as possible but two months later we still don’t have a clear plan for doing that.”


Leicestershire Police issue statement in response to fresh lockdown measures

Leicestershire Police said in a statement: “We continue to liaise with partners in relation to current Health Protection Regulations and guidelines and respond appropriately to changes.

“This is a dynamic situation and we will adjust accordingly providing proportionate policing under the relevant legislation to help keep people safe in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Our approach has always been clear that we will use the four Es – Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce where necessary.

“We continue to encourage communities to follow the Government’s guidelines. Please continue to maintain two metres social distancing, wash your hands regularly and get a test if you believe you do have symptoms.”


The number of deaths registered in England and Wales over one week has fallen below the five-year average for the first time since mid March…


EU set to list countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter

The EU is set to make public a list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to enter 31 European countries.

Most Americans are likely to be refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the United States.

EU envoys to Brussels have launched a written procedure which would see the list endorsed on Tuesday morning so long as no objections are raised by member countries.

The list is expected to contain up to 15 countries that have virus infection rates comparable to those in the EU.

Infection rates in Brazil, Russia and India are also high, and they are also unlikely to make the cut.


A socially distanced music festival that aims to be “safer than going to the supermarket” is in the works for August…