Former council leader rejects lockdown fears

“Birmingham cannot be regarded as a Covid hotspot,” says visiting professor John Clancy.

A Visiting Professor at Birmingham City University has told the BBC’s World At One programme that Birmingham cannot be regarded as a Covid hotspot due to the way in which cases are increasing in a localised way across the city.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague on Monday, John Clancy (pictured), a former leader of Birmingham City Council, has suggested that hyperlocal interventions are required in order to tackle an increases, saying, “The real fact of the matter is that the cases are increasing in a very localised way in the patchwork of the city – for example, 87 of Birmingham’s 132 neighbourhoods didn’t record a single test of positive Covid-19 in the last week.”

John Clancy – Pic, Andrew Fox.

With the city facing lockdown after an increase in reported cases in recent weeks, Professor Clancy added, “What’s happening is hyperlocal outbreaks and the problem is if you then take a sledgehammer and say the whole of Birmingham is a hotspot what you are not doing is dealing with the problem with a hyperlocal intervention.

“There can be very special cases in a special neighbourhood that causes a sudden increase. But putting a whole city into lockdown because certain parts of the city has an issue really isn’t the way to deal with the matter. Everyone should carry on washing their hands, social distancing, making space – but in terms of intervention in needs to be on a much more local level.”

Despite Heath Secretary Matt Hancock calling for “robust, targeted intervention” in areas that have seen a spike in cases, Professor Clancy went on to say, “The real intervention is needed at community level, a testing increase in particular in those areas, intervention at health visitor and medical level. What we are not seeing is an increase in hospital admissions. Testing is showing that the disease is in the community but it is not now leading to hospital admissions and it is not now, thankfully, leading to deaths.

“It has to be isolating and locating where the disease. We do have this postcode data to use for track and tracing in those very local areas. It is probably a waste of resources, time, effort and energy to shut down an entire city. 716,000 Brummies live in an area where there were no positive tests in the last week. Birmingham cannot regarded as a Covid hotspot.”