Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, who represents Leicester South, called on the government to provide increased “clarity” and support, in the form of extra testing and other resources to tackle the outbreak.
The government is looking into providing accommodation for people in Leicester who have nowhere to self-isolate, health secretary Matt Hancock has said, after it was confirmed that the city will be placed back into lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Mr Hancock told the House of Commons that non-essential shops in Leicester will shut from Tuesday and schools will close to most pupils from Thursday as part of restrictions imposed to combat the local rise in infections.
He has advised people from Leicester to stay at home as much as they can while the local lockdown measures continue, adding that ”the relaxation of shielding measures due on July 6 cannot now take place”.
Leicester has an infection rate of 135 per 100,000 people, which is three times higher than the next highest local area, according to Mr Hancock.
Mr Ashworth flagged concern over the “disproportionate” impact of the virus on the city’s Black and Asian communities. As a “proudly diverse city”, he said that Leicester was “particularly at risk”.
He also highlighted the issue that members of Leicester’s multigenerational households would be facing in attempting to self-isolate.
In response, Mr Hancock said the government was working with the city council “to put in place” accommodation on a “discretionary and exceptional basis” for those who are required by public health guidance to self isolate.
He did not provide any further detail on how this initiative would be implemented.
Mr Hancock said that the government is “still getting to the bottom of” the potential reasons why the outbreak in Leicester has occurred.
Conservative former minister Nusrat Ghani asked in the Commons: “Can (Mr Hancock) share what factors lie behind the infection rate being so high in Leicester, (and) whether those factors will be shared with local resilience forums?”
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Mr Hancock responded: “Of course there are many reasons and potential reasons why this outbreak has occurred in the way it has in Leicester, we’re still getting to the bottom of those.
“But I absolutely undertake to then ensure that other directors of public health in local areas understand those reasons so we can get to the bottom of them.
“For instance, we’re doing work specifically on food processing factories which round the world seem to have a higher rate including, not only in America, in Germany, also in North Wales, and of course there is a challenge in the community to ensure that we understand properly the origins and the spread of this outbreak in Leicester.”