In Brief

Coronavirus: Tier 3 fears for London as capital tops England’s infection rate table

Public Health England urging government to place the city’s nine million residents under tougher restrictions

Coronavirus case numbers in London have soared to the highest rates recorded in all of England according to latest data that has triggered calls for the city to be placed under the most restrictive Covid rules.

The Public Health England (PHE) figures show that the capital had an highest average infection rate of 191.8 per 100,000 people in the week to 6 December - up from 158.1 per 100,00 in the previous seven days. Cases have increased in 24 of London’s 32 boroughs.

Public Health England is now urging the government to move the city’s nine million residents to the strictest measures when the tiers are reassessed on 16 December. But some Tory MPs have opposed the move, after reportedly being warned by the Treasury that putting London into Tier 3 would cost 550,000 jobs.

Mayor Sadiq Khan is urging Londoners to stick to the current guidelines in a bid to bring down infection rates, tweeting: “We still have a long winter. None of us want London to move into Tier 3.” 

However, such a move may prove to be unavoidable. An MP who was present at a meeting of London MPs with Health Minister Helen Whately on Tuesday told Sky News that “it was a very clear preparation for Tier 3. I think the decision is pretty much made.”

Another MP noted that similar meetings are called “every time the tier changes - so that’s probably a clue”.

On a more positive note, the PHE data shows that coronavirus case rates across most of the rest of the country remained at a similar level for the week ending 6 December.

And case rates in the West Midlands have fallen significantly, from 196.8 per 100,000 the previous week to 158.4, with declines also recorded in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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