Curfews could be imposed in the capital to fight a second Covid-19 wave, a public health chief signalled today as he appealed to Londoners to “pull together” to limit a feared surge in cases.
With the epidemic expected to hit the city with far greater force in coming weeks, Professor Kevin Fenton, London director of Public Health England, made clear that more restrictions may be imposed, including some possibly across the capital, to avoid a more stringent lockdown.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, he also issued an urgent appeal to Londoners, hailing them for their “phenomenal” efforts in crushing the first wave and urging them to “do it again” now.
Professor Fenton said:
About 500,000 students are coming to London from around the country and world for the start of term which is likely to increase infections. Demand for testing is outstripping capacity, with the numbers of tests in London about 150,000 a week as they are focused on hotspots in the North and Midlands. The number of positive tests announced for the city yesterday was 278, though this may be an underestimate given the shortages. Some coronavirus clusters are happening in care homes, particularly in outer London. About 10 London boroughs have coronavirus rates of some 30 cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day rolling average. Young people in the capital are fuelling the rise, though there are also other factors. It was not clear where people caught the virus when asked about “clusters” of cases in workplaces.
Schools are now “understanding their role much more effectively” in dealing with suspected cases. The Tube is “safe”. Voiced optimism over a vaccine but warned of difficult autumn and winter. The PHE chief stressed that the aim was to avoid lockdowns in London given their economic, health and well-being impact.
“Before we get to that stage there are many other things that you can do in order to help to reduce the risk of transmission and contain your outbreak,” Professor Fenton explained.
“In some areas which have seen resurgence there have been limits placed on the amount of time you can spend socialising. In some it might be local curfews so you’re not out drinking until the wee hours of the morning.
“By limiting that you also limit the amount of time people are spending in close contact with others