Blackburn could face COVID-19 lockdown after spike in cases among south Asians

Blackburn with Darwen is facing a rising tide of coronavirus cases centred on terraced houses with high numbers of occupants, especially south Asians, the area’s public health director has said.

The Lancashire town brought in extra restrictions on Tuesday following a spike in infections.

Prof Dominic Harrison said the majority of new cases were in the south Asian community. He said a phased lockdown could happen if the rise was not halted by July 27.

For the next month, the 148,000 people who live within the Lancashire authority have been told to observe the new rules in a bid to avoid a Leicester-style local lockdown.

The new measures include tighter limits on visitors from another household, and officials have called on people to bump elbows in place of handshakes and hugs.

Residents are being told to wear cloth face coverings in all enclosed public spaces, including workplaces, libraries, museums, health centres and hair and beauty salons.

“We have we had 114 cases in the last two weeks and 97 are south Asian which is why we want to minimise household contact,” Prof Harrison said. “What we are seeing from looking at the postcode data in the last two weeks is a single house being infected and and the whole household becoming infected creating household clusters in part of the town.”

He said it was causing “rising tide events that they are mainly in south Asian areas and areas with a high number of terraced houses and occupied by four or more five people.”

Council leader Mohammed Khan told Sky News he has “no intention” yet of fully locking down the two towns. But if “worst comes to worst”, he explained, “we are looking at the smart way of locking down areas”, using postcode data to show which have the “most problem.”

“At this stage, we are not anywhere near to Leicester,” he said. “We are putting all these measures in place to make sure we are not going to get to that place. We are confident we will do everything possible in the next 10-15 days to control the whole thing.”

His message to residents was: “You’ve done a great job in the past, but please: This is going to be something serious if you’re not going to take care of you and your loved one.”

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