The Prime Minister delivered his “Build build build” speech in Dudley to announce a £5 billion investment to deliver his “level up” strategy for the Midlands and the North. But after his speech, Boris Johnson was confronted by ITV’s Robert Peston on the Government’s decision to issue a new lockdown for the city of Leicester. The ITV political editor asked: “You promised a world-class test, trace and isolate scheme.
“In your words, you would be whack-a-mole to keep the virus under control.
“But you’re shutting down a city of 500,000 people. We’re some way, aren’t we, from a world-class system.”
But the Prime Minister hit back: “First of all, Robert, on Leicester, I always made it very clear that we would take draconian steps if it was necessary to put on the breaks and to deal with problems as they flared up.
“We got a problem in Leicester and I thank the people of Leicester and they’re going to have to wait a bit longer and go through another period of restrictions.
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“But anybody can see why that’s sensible and what we’re going to do. We always said we were going to operate on that basis.
“And our testing system actually is – we’re testing now almost double per heard than what most other European countries are doing.
“We’ve got a testing capacity of 280,000 a day and testing is a huge part of that whack-a-mole strategy.”
The Prime Minister added: “I think most people across the country do understand and do remember that as we come out of this I always said that there were going to be local flare-ups and that we will deal with them locally – and that’s what we are doing in Leicester, and we will do it elsewhere.
“It worked in places like Ashford, or Weston-Super-Mare, in Leicester it’s gone out more into the community and we need to take the steps that we have.”
Mr Hancock said the measures would be kept under review and would not stay in place “any longer than is necessary”, adding: “We’ll review if we can release any of the measures in two weeks.”
He told the Commons: “These actions are profoundly in the national interest too because it’s in everyone’s interests that we control the virus as locally as possible.
“Local action like this is an important tool in our armoury to deal with outbreaks while we get the country back on its feet.”
Leicester City Council said there had been 944 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city in the past two weeks, and that an indoor testing centre would open on Tuesday at the Highfields Community Centre, with further testing sites planned.
It is reviewing its plans to extend the opening of its own buildings such as libraries, museums and children’s centres.