NEW lockdown measures were imposed last night on the North as the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 hit the highest level for a month.
People in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and East Lancashire are now banned from meeting each other indoors from midnight last night.
Health secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘We’re constantly looking at the latest data on the spread of coronavirus, and unfortunately we’ve seen an increasing rate of transmission in parts of Northern England.
‘The spread is largely due to households meeting and not abiding to social distancing. So from midnight, people from different households will not be allowed to meet each other indoors in these areas.
‘We take this action with a heavy heart, but we can see increasing rates of Covid across Europe and are determined to do whatever is necessary to keep people safe.’
Earlier Mr Hancock refused to comment on reports that the R-rate of infection in south-west and south-east England is now above 1, meaning the virus is starting to spread exponentially again.
There were 846 new positive tests yesterday, the most since 901 on June 28. The new measures in the North came as those diagnosed with coronavirus or showing symptoms were ordered to self-isolate for ten days instead of seven.
Chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and other experts said it was ‘now the correct balance of risk’ to extend the period that people must stay indoors. They added: ‘People with Covid-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between seven and nine days after illness onset.’
■ NHS consultations should be carried out via phone or video unless there is a good reason not to, says Matt Hancock. The health secretary told the Royal College of Physicians the NHS ‘must not fall back into bad habits’ after the pandemic, as he encouraged ‘Zoom medicine’.