BRADFORD has been praised for doing an "amazing job" at containing Covid-19. 

Nadine Dorries, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, made the comments when quizzed about the reasons for the Leicester lockdown and how the Government has handled the situation.

The Government and Leicester City Council have been trading blows over who is responsible for the city becoming the first in the UK to be placed into local lockdown.

Asked whether the 944 people who tested positive in the last two weeks fell ill because the Government did not act soon enough in closing the city down, Ms Dorries said: “What’s interesting is that we’ve been working with your local authority for a number of weeks and they had information on the data from June 11, but there was kind of a local disparity in that I don’t think that there was a willingness to accept the data.

“If we look at Bradford who are number two on the list, they’ve had the same data and the same information and the actions which Bradford have taken in terms of dealing with the spike in their area.

"They immediately kicked into action, they put a huge number of community measures in place.”

Ms Dorries said that youth workers were out on the streets engaging with young people and that Bradford Council had adopted a street by street, home by home approach, something she believed should also have been done in Leicester.

“Because of this, Bradford have today been able to pull themselves out of the red and into amber. The council there has done an amazing job at containing covid. Sadly the same thing hasn’t happened in Leicester,” she said.

The row over what data has been available to the Council and when is ongoing, with the city mayor claiming the authority was kept in the dark until late last week.

Asked about why data wasn’t shared sooner, Ms Dorries said: “They [Leicester] had access to the data from June 11, they had access to the Department of Health dashboard, and they had the information. They’ve had additional funding, I think £2.4m worth of funding. We’ve done what we could, we provided the data and we’ve given them the money.

“We made Leicester aware, we sent mobile testing units there from June 8, your director of public health knew prior to that there were problems in Leicester.

“It’s slightly disappointing that there was this rhetoric that we don’t believe the data, we sceptical about the data, because I think people were looking for leadership.”

But Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby says otherwise.

He said: "It is simply not true to say we have had access to this vital data at the time we needed it.

"We have only in the last few received postcode data and we have been asking for it for weeks.

"The Government should be able to prove the trail of emails, if that were the case, but it will not be able to."

A spokesperson for the  Department for Health and Social Care said: “From June 11, NHS Digital (with the support of the Department) made available an operational data dashboard – including counts of total tests, total positives and total voids per local authority (including pillar two) - to Directors of Public Health. This was to support Directors of Public Health and Local Councils’ operational needs while more detailed data sharing was being put in place.

“Leicester had access to the dashboard from 19 June and  PHE began providing record level positive test data, including postcodes, to Local Authorities (including Directors of Public Health) on the 24 June.”

Sir Peter added: "I remain baffled what the Government continues to suggest there is some kind of privacy issues with giving us that postcode data.

"If she (Dorries) thinks councils are happy with the way the Government has handled the release of information she is completely misreading the lie of the land.

"They are intensely frustrated, as am I still."

Asked why the local lockdown decision was rushed, Ms Dorries explained that the decision was taken overnight on Sunday and a spike in cases over the weekend was to blame for the swift extension of existing rules and shops and schools closing.

“From June 8, we knew there was an escalating problem but over the weekend there was a rapid increase in the transmission,” she said.

“In real time there was a sharp upward spike and that’s why we had to take action as a result of the data which came in on Sunday. It was a sharp peak that took Leicester to the highest rate of infections in the country.”

She said that a targeted approach and clear messaging are crucial to bring Leicester’s levels back in line with other areas.

“This is a virus that has to be hunted down, it has to be done street by street. There is only one way to stop lockdowns locally and there is only one way to stop lockdowns nationally and that is to stop the virus spreading,” she said.

“If each authority takes responsibility for each of the homes, the businesses the factories, leisure settings, local authorities street by street, house by house, have to take responsibility for their areas.”

Specific support is being provided in the city.

Ms Dorries said: “There are lots of measures going into Leicester today, there are lots of things happening today and it’s taken that recognition that Leicester has a problem because what we really want Leicester to do is to follow the guidelines, to stay at home as much as possible, to hand wash, wear makes when you’re not at home and on public transport.

“The review is taking place in Leicester in 14 days and what we want to see is that infection rate dropping so that Leicester can come out of lockdown.”

On what it will take for Leicester to come out of lockdown Ms Dorries said it will have to be “on par with the rest of the country and the national average”.

She added that at this stage there are no plans for legislation to ensure people follow guidance, but the Government want Leicester to stick to the rules.

“If they can’t then obviously we will step in and bring in legislation, but we don’t want to do that,” she explained.

Ms Dorries went on to echo what the Prime Minister said about problems with messaging in the city and said that communication was key in stopping the virus from spreading.

Asked about the fact that she, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson all had the virus themselves, she said: “I have no idea how I caught it, I was very ill as was the Prime Minister, Matt had it ‘Duracell Matt’ he didn’t have it too bad he was bouncing and out of it.

“The thing about Covid is it doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what political party you are, where you are and there is only one way to beat it and that is to deprive it.

“Where I was in Westminster, where the PM and Matt were there were lots of people in one place, lots of contact.

“This virus likes to go from person to person, and rapidly, that’s how it spreads. Getting those messages in is the responsibility of your local authority.”