Some ‘not strict enough’ with social distancing, says West Midlands mayor

The mayor of the West Midlands believes “some people have not been strict enough” with coronavirus measures, after Birmingham was added to a watch list as an “area of enhanced support”.

There have been reports that the UK’s second city could be placed into a local lockdown amid rising numbers of cases in the area.

In the seven days to August 17, 332 positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in Birmingham, a rate of 29.1 per 100,000 people, up from 292 cases the week before.

Conservative mayor of the region, Andy Street, said the city is in”an extremely challenging situation”.

In a statement posted on Twitter he added: “People across the region have made an enormous sacrifice since the start of lockdown to keep the virus at bay, but the virus is now returning and recent efforts to counter that have been insufficient.

“It is evident that some people have not been strict enough when it comes to keeping up the basics of social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering, nor following the guidelines on avoiding mass gatherings.

“This has to change immediately and I would ask every single citizen, both across Birmingham and the West Midlands, to redouble their efforts.”

His sentiments were echoed by the leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward, who thinks the watch list should be a “wake-up call for everyone”.

He said: “We will make announcements as soon as possible about what this means for the people of the city.”

Despite the fears of a local lockdown in the city, infection rates are considerably higher in other parts of the UK.

Oldham has the highest infection rate, with 78.9 cases per 100,000 people and 187 confirmed positive tests, in the seven days to August 17.

However, this is down on the previous week when the infection rate was 111.8 and 265 confirmed cases.

Northampton is almost level with Oldham on a rate of 78.4, up slightly from 74.4, with 176 new cases.

These figures are calculated by the PA news agency and based on Public Health England data published on August 20 on the Government’s coronavirus online dashboard.