England’s second-largest city of Birmingham will be put under another lockdown as the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise across the country on Friday.

The R number, or the rate at which the infection spreads within the community, went above one for the first time in weeks indicating that the epidemic is growing once again. According to latest official statistics, it is estimated 13 people per 10,000 were infected in England between August 22 and September 7, compared with four people per 10,000 between July 24 and August 11.

“We’ve seen all across the world how a rise in cases, initially among younger people, leads to hospitalisations and fatalities. The pandemic is not over, and everyone has a role to play to keep the virus at bay and avoid another further restriction,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“It’s so important that everyone abides by the law and socialise in groups up to six, make space between you and those outside your household, get a test and self-isolate if you develop symptoms and wash your hands regularly. It is vital you engage with NHS Test and Trace service if contacted to provide details of your close contacts and self-isolate if you are asked to do so,” he said.

Birmingham now has the second-highest rate of COVID-19 infection in England, after Bolton. The stricter lockdown measures for the region also cover neighbouring Sandwell and Solihull, affecting more than 1.6 million people in total.

The tougher lockdown restrictions for the entire region will officially begin from Tuesday, with residents were advised to avoid household mixing even before the rules come into effect.

“The areas will now be escalated to an area of national intervention, with a ban on people socialising with people outside their own household,” said West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

The restrictions focus on the mixing of households rather than schools, workplaces and transport, he noted.

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Dave Thompson said he understood it had been a “tough time”, but urged people to act responsibly.

Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced new laws on how many people can socialise indoors and outdoors from Monday, with fines in place for those who break the “rule of six” for the number allowed to gather.



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