00:02 GMT12 July 2020
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    Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed stricter social distancing measures could be introduced in certain areas in the future as part of the NHS "test and trace" system for continuing to suppress the spread of COVID-19.

    Local lockdowns could be implemented in areas of England to help tackle regional ‘flare-ups’ of the coronavirus, the government has announced.

    Matt Hancock told the Number 10 daily press briefing on Tuesday, the ability to tighten restrictions in individual regions would be part of the NHS test, track and trace system, which is due to expand on 1 June.

    On Wednesday morning, Housing Minister Robert Jenrick explained: "If the system works as we hope, it will be on quite a micro level as you say.”

    Mr Jenrick said the government's test and trace system would have a "local element" and identify flare-ups in particular places, such as parts of towns, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

    "That enables us then to take action in that place which will be restrictive on the individuals who live and work there... but as a result of that we'll be able to provide greater freedom to millions of other people across the country, enabling us to continue to ease the lockdown, ease the return to school, to work and to the daily activities that we all want to get back to," he told the BBC.

    The government has recently announced that it will be creating a Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) to bring together expertise and analysis to inform decisions on tackling Covid-19.

    The government’s road map for easing lockdown restrictions has set out how the joint biosecurity centre would have a “response function” that could address local spikes in infections, in partnership with local public health agencies, and impose restrictions, as reported by the Guardian

    Earlier this month, Jenrick, said it was the government’s “strong preference” that lockdown measures be lifted at the same time across the country. However, he said some restrictions could be reimposed at a local level if required.

    “Our strong preference is that the whole country moves as one,” he said. “But if, as we build up our infrastructure for testing and tracking and tracing, in time it is required for us to make interventions in smaller micro-communities where you are seeing the virus take hold again, then that will be something that we consider as other countries around the world have done when they have implemented effective track and trace systems,”cited in the Guardian

    At the time of publication, 37,048 have died from Covid-19 in the UK and 265, 227 people have tested positive for the virus. 

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