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Coronavirus: Leicester and UK government clash over lockdown extension

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the construction site of Ealing Fields High School in west London, Monday June 29, 2020
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the construction site of Ealing Fields High School in west London, Monday June 29, 2020 Copyright Toby Melville/AP
Copyright Toby Melville/AP
By Alessio Dell'Anna with AP, AFP
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The UK government has reportedly recommended extending Leicester's lockdown amid a spike in cases. But the city's mayor is not convinced.

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The English city of Leicester may have to keep coronavirus restrictions in place for a further two weeks after a spike in cases. 

There have been 866 COVID-19 infections reported in the last two weeks, a third of the city's total since the start of the outbreak.  

Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester's mayor, said he had received a letter from the government recommending current restrictions stay in place for another 14 days. That would mean pubs and restaurants remaining closed when they open elsewhere in the country on July 4. 

Sir Peter said he's yet to be persuaded the city is faring any worse than other places in England and criticised the UK government over its handling of the situation.

He said he will tell health minister Matt Hancock later Monday that there is “no reason to pick on Leicester, on our economy, on our businesses".

He said the Public Health England report sent to him overnight “readily acknowledges” that cases are higher in Leicester due to higher levels of testing.

Priti Patel, the UK's home affairs minister, said on Sunday the government was considering whether to impose local confinement measures.

“We are concerned about Leicester, we are concerned about any local outbreak," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday while on a visit to a construction site in London. "I want to stress to people that we are not out of the woods yet.”

The UK remains Europe's worst-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic. It has reported over 43,000 deaths and more than 313,000 cases of COVID-19.

Despite recent relaxations of lockdown measures, authorities keep urging caution.

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