Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a street in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2020. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late Monday that the whole of Italy will be placed under lockdown from Tuesday until April 3. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a street in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2020. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late Monday that the whole of Italy will be placed under lockdown from Tuesday until April 3. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

The British government announced Friday that more cities will go into local lockdown as part of its efforts to curb the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced new restriction measures will be implemented in Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport.

“The latest data shows a sharp increase in incidence rates per 100,000 population in Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport, which are significantly above the national average,” said Hancock in a statement.

“As a result, we are making regulations which take effect from Saturday 26 September and will impose restrictions on inter-household mixing in private dwellings and gardens in Leeds, Stockport, Wigan and Blackpool,” he said.

Hancock said the restrictions are in line with measures seen elsewhere in the country, such as Leicester and the West Midlands.

“People who live in these areas will not be allowed to gather in a private dwelling or garden with any other household unless in a support bubble. People from anywhere else will also not be allowed to gather with another household in a private dwelling or garden in these areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Welsh government confirmed that Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6:00 p.m. BST (1700 GMT) on Sunday, while the town of Llanelli will follow the suit at 6:00 p.m. BST (1700 GMT) on Saturday.

Also on Friday, London was placed on the national COVID-19 “watch list” as an area of high concern. The move came after 620 new cases were confirmed in the British capital in the last 24 hours — more than double the number at the start of the week.

As the coronavirus cases continue to rise in the British capital, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, warned that London is “at a very worrying tipping point right now.”

“It’s vital that testing capacity is increased immediately in London and focused in the areas it is needed most…Any delay will mean letting the city down and will cost lives,” he said.

Britain recorded another 6,874 coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase since the pandemic outbreak in Britain, according to official figures released Friday.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Britain hit 423,236, while the coronavirus-related deaths reached 41,936 with 34 new deaths, the latest official data showed.

Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Friday that an estimated 103,600 people within the community population in England had COVID-19 between Sept. 13 and 19, equating to around one in 500 people,

In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 years age group, said the ONS in a provisional survey, adding that the incidence rate for England has increased in recent weeks.

In his recent speech delivered at the parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass-testing, but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.”

His remarks came at a time when countries, such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States, are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

The British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said Monday that it is possible that some vaccine could be available in small amounts later this year, but it is more likely that a vaccine will be available early next year, although that is not guaranteed.

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