Birmingham’s director of public health says the city is in a “potential perfect storm” of Covid – hence the need for further measures including new guidance on essential travel.
The city has been offered “a strengthened package of support” by the Government in the fight against coronavirus.
And there is also new guidance to minimise travel in and out of the city during the period of extended restrictions leading to the new date for Freedom Day on July 19.
It’s the same advice that was previously issued to a range of places, including Bedford, Blackburn, Greater Manchester, Kirklees, Lancashire, Leicester, the London Borough of Hounslow and North Tyneside Council.
As well as now also being extended to Birmingham, it applies in Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington.
Speaking in a Facebook Live interview with Birmingham Live, Dr Justin Varney, director of public health at Birmingham City Council, explained why Birmingham had now become a cause for concern.
He said: “The reason we are taking additional steps in Birmingham is that we have got a kind of potential perfect storm at the moment.
“The vast majority of new cases we are seeing are of the new Delta variant which is both more infectious and there is also emerging evidence that it puts a larger proportion of people into hospital.
“We don’t know yet about deaths but there’s certainly some signs out of Bolton that more younger people are going into hospital than with the previous variants.
He went on: “So we’ve got rising numbers of Delta variant.
“We have also got a bit of a way to go on vaccinations – about 61,000 people over the age of 50 still haven’t taken up that offer of the first vaccine jab yet and that leaves them super-vulnerable to this new variant.
“And then the final element is some parts of the city are just not testing regularly enough with the lateral flow.
” So when we take all of those things combined, we are concerned.”
He added: “The other thing that has tipped the balance is that national government recognises that we are the centre of the country and that Birmingham as the second city is really pivotal to that firestop between London and the north.
“And we really need to crack down and control things in Birmingham and the Midlands in order to stop this spreading much more across the rest of the country.
“So it’s a combination of factors that have really led to this position of focusing more in the city, putting more effort into vaccination and testing.”