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Greater Manchester town Oldham looks set to be the next local area plunged into lockdown after the latest figures from Public Health England showed it now has the third highest rate of coronavirus cases in the country. However the hinted shutdown has sparked fury among local leaders, including lead councillor Sean Fielding who warned it could prove “catastrophic” for businesses. Oxford University’s Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine, Carl Heneghan also disagreed with the possible move, branding it “incoherent and unsustainable” on BBC Newsnight.
Professor Heneghan told viewers: “The Government has got this wrong by looking solely at cases.
“If I look at the number of people in hospital right now, there are about 1,250 people across the Pennine Trust.
“Only nine of them actually have COVID in a bed today.
“So when you focus on cases, you get this wrong.”
He continued: “There’s a threshold in this where you’re talking about a percentage of 0.0005 percent of the population that you’re going to bring in lockdown measures for.
“I think this is incoherent and unsustainable.
“The virus at the moment is circulating at a low level.
“Oldham should be allowed to let their test and trace system function and get to work.”
The Oxford scientist added: “When people become symptomatic and consult, you use that to drive the lockdown.
“The figures for that are actually much greater than what we’re seeing in Oldham.
“A high proportion of these people are asymptomatic so you have to back off, take a pause and let the system function.”
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock has defended the idea: “Of course I regret that in the way that I regret a huge amount of the impact of what we’ve had to do to tackle the virus.
“But we will do what is necessary and we’ll work very closely with the council, who’ve also got a really important part to play in this.”
A total of four million people across the north of England are already facing extra restrictions after Greater Manchester experienced a surge in infections.
Now Northampton is also dealing with a spike and Birmingham is facing warning that it might need new restrictions too.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Aberdeen will stay locked down for one more week despite opposition from the city council.
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