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Havering and Barking & Dagenham dismiss local lockdown suggestion

Havering and Barking & Dagenham Councils have dismissed suggestions that the boroughs could be set to go into a localised lockdown.

The two boroughs feature on a list in both the Daily Express and Daily Mail newspapers of areas which are seeing an increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases.

According to the Mail, the number of positive tests for Covid-19 in Havering stood at two in the week beginning Saturday, 13 June. The following week, there were eight positive tests – an increase of 300 per cent.

In Barking & Dagenham, the figure doubled from three to six over the same time period.

That has sparked fears that the boroughs could follow Leicester in going into a localised lockdown.

The city in the East midlands is seeing the next stage of easing of restrictions delayed by two weeks, meaning pubs, restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses, will not be allowed to reopen until at least Saturday, 18 July.

Non-essential retailers that reopened earlier this month are also being told they will have to close.

But that is not likely to happen in either Havering or Barking and Dagenham, as things stand.

The Director of Public Health for Havering, Mark Ansell, said: “We are aware of reports that local areas including Havering may be facing a lockdown due to increased cases of Covid-19.

Mark Ansell, the Director of Public Health for Havering (credit: Havering Council)

“The source we assume the Daily Express article is based on shows an increase from two to eight cases in Havering from one week to the next.

“It is an increase, but from a low base and is likely to reflect more testing and the outcomes of contact tracing rather than a sustained spike in cases.

“Public Health England London has reviewed cases in London and the overall trend remains downwards. We are nowhere near the levels where a lockdown would even be considered.

“Our outbreak plan is now in place and we are working closely with national partners on contact tracing and locally to make Havering Covid-secure.

“It is expected that cases will begin to rise as people begin to emerge from lockdown. This is why the NHS Test and Trace service is in place and testing is being expanded.

“There is no cause for alarm but we do need to stay alert – coronavirus has not gone away. We all need to continue with social distancing, and maintain effective respiratory and hand hygiene. Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms must self-isolate and request testing so that their close contacts can be traced before they unknowingly spread the infection further.

“Only by working together can we protect the vulnerable, the NHS and the economic and social life of the borough from the threat of Covid-19.”

Damian White, the leader of Havering Council, also dismissed the reports and labelled the worry they caused local people “irresponsible.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, has written to the Daily Express, saying it is “completely false and utterly irresponsible” to suggest there has been a spike in cases in his borough.

Posting a copy of his letter on social media, Cllr Rodwell also accused the newspaper of resorting to “scaremongering tactics.”

Barking & Dagenham Council Leader, Darren Rodwell (credit: LBBD)

Cllr Rodwell wrote that his borough had recorded 19 cases over a two-week period. In the same time, Leicester had recorded 944, he said.

“Journalists who rake up stories just to sell newspapers should know better,” he said. “They have a vital role to play in keeping us informed, but scaremongering does no one a service.

“Worse, it harms confidence and could do untold damage to our chances of securing a lasting recovery.”

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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