Hancock favours local response to UK's 100+ a week Covid-19 spikes

Jedidajah Otte
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

More than 100 outbreaks of coronavirus are cropping up every week, Matt Hancock has revealed, announcing that there would be “more targeted local action and less national lockdown”.

The health secretary wrote in an article in the Telegraph that small localised lockdowns in affected communities and new portable walk-in centres were helping to get many outbreaks under control “swiftly and silently”.

The lockdown imposed on Leicester after a surge in infections, the first of its kind in the country, will be reviewed by Hancock this week.

The paper reports that door-to-door testing, which was used in the worst-hit areas of Leicester, is to be used more widely to curb outbreaks in the coming months. Portable walk-in centres will also be stationed in areas where there is a flare-up of the virus.

Related: Coronavirus near me: are UK Covid-19 cases rising or falling in your area

AS Green and Co farm in Herefordshire, where 73 workers tested positive for Covid-19, was subjected to a lockdown on Sunday.

About 200 workers at the vegetable farm and packing business, which supplies Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S and Aldi, have been ordered to isolate on the property.

Last month more than 450 workers at four food factories across England and Wales tested positive for the virus, including more than 150 at an Asda-owned site in West Yorkshire, raising concerns that food processing sites are potential hotbeds of Covid-19.

Hancock wrote that local interventions, such as the closure of pubs, schools and businesses, as well as ramped up testing in communities, are already in the triple figures every week.

The health secretary pledged that the government would “hunt down the virus” by attacking any surge in infections in any area with a significant outbreak.

“Now we can take more targeted local action and less national lockdown to restore the freedom of the majority while controlling the virus wherever we can find it,” Hancock wrote.

“Each week there are over a hundred local actions taken across the country – some of these will make the news, but many more are swiftly and silently dealt with.

“This is thanks in large part to the incredible efforts of local authorities – all of whom have stepped up and published their local outbreak control plans.”