Andrew Marr grilled Matt Hancock during a tense interview this morning, after the BBC host questioned whether the Government had failed in its resp
Andrew Marr grilled Matt Hancock during a tense interview this morning, after the BBC host questioned whether the Government had failed in its response to the Leicester outbreak. Leicester became subject to the UK’s first local lockdown on Monday following a spike in COVID-19 cases. Marr quoted Oxford Professor Carl Heneghan in his interview, who suggested the lockdown was a “mistake”.
Mr Hancock said: “We have to stop the spread of the virus. That is why I took the serious and specific measures in Leicester as a whole to stop the spread.
“Infections in Leicester were running at three times the rate as the next highest city.”
Marr noted: “The last time we spoke, you said you wanted to avoid lockdowns of entire cities.”
Mr Hancock admitted that more localised lockdowns, like that seen in Weston-Super-Mare where a hospital was locked down due to an outbreak of the virus, had “not worked” in Leicester.
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He continued: “The spread was in the community in Leicester as well so we had to take a broader action.”
Marr responded: “Something went wrong in Leicester didn’t it?
“Oxford professor Carl Heneghan said it is a very blunt tool and a mistake to lockdown in Leicester.
“He said lockdowns should only be used when the health system is becoming overwhelmed. Is he wrong?”
The senior Conservative has confirmed ministers are “of course” looking at similar places to Leicester, amid fears of more city-wide lockdowns.
Reports on Tuesday in the The Telegraph claimed Bradford and Oldham were on a Government “watch list” of places in which local lockdowns could be imposed if more targeted measures fail to control fresh coronavirus outbreaks.
Mr Hancock went on to say he was “very worried” about employment practices in some factories in Leicester.
He told Marr that there were “clearly also some other problems that have been under the radar in the past in Leicester”.
The Government minister added that there was now a cross-government effort to solve those problems.
This comes amid reports in the Sunday newspapers that some workers in clothing factories are unable to observe social distancing.