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Language barriers among Leicester’s Asian community ‘could have added to city’s coronavirus spike’

LANUGAGE barriers among Leicester’s Asian community could be one factor behind the city’s coronavirus spike, a local politician has said.

The East Midland’s city has recorded 866 new cases of the deadly bug in the last two weeks – leading to Health Secretary Matt Hancock extending lockdown restriction.

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City councillor Ratilal Govind said he thought a lack communication with people who do not speak English as a first language could be one factor behind the increasing numbers.

Some 49 per cent of Leicester’s 340,000 population is of Asian heritage or from black backgrounds while in east Leicester that figure is around two thirds.

“I have seen young people getting together, having a few drinks and conversation,” the Labour councillor told the MailOnline.

“They are just social gatherings. With these young people there is a language barrier. They are speaking their own language and I tell them to disperse in Gujarati.

“There is a lack of communication made worse by the language barriers.”

The city’s director of public health, Ivan Browne said health conditions such as diabetes and pockets of deprivation could also be to blame.

He said: “We know that these factors combine to create a high-risk, more vulnerable, population that’s more susceptible to coronavirus”.

It comes as cooped-up Brits prepare for their first taste of freedom in months this weekend – with pubs, restaurants hotels and hairdressers set to reopen from July 4.

But if Leicester stays shut, thousands of thirsty locals will have to wait two more weeks for their long-awaited pint.

Leicester’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has accused the Government of “picking on the city” and said the spike in cases was down to increased testing.

He was left furious this morning after Public Health England (PHE) sent him a report of the situation overnight.

According to Sir Peter, the report’s recommendations “are about extending the restrictions for a further two weeks, but what we still don’t have – whether it’s lockdown or restrictions – is why on earth you would do it and why you would do it here in Leicester.”

He added: “It’s very unclear on what difference they would make and why you would do it, how it would possibly make any difference.

“If the virus is out of control or is spreading with the restrictions, I can’t see how extending them for a further two weeks would make any difference to that.”

The fuming mayor said the report had been “cobbled together” and “readily acknowledges” that cases are higher in Leicester due to higher levels of testing in the city.

He told the BBC: “I’ve looked at this report and, frankly, it’s obviously been cobbled together very hastily.

“It’s superficial and its description of Leicester is inaccurate and certainly it does not provide us with the information we need if we are to remain restricted for two weeks longer than the rest of the country.”

Sir Peter said he would tell Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday afternoon there is “no reason to pick on Leicester, on our economy, on our businesses, that is not the case (for) the rest of the UK.”

He added it was also unclear who would have the power to impose further restrictions on the city.

Asked earlier if he was prepared to continue lockdown for two more weeks, Sir Peter told Sky News: “I’m saying we need to be convinced that there is a case for doing that.”

And when asked if he believes pubs and restaurants will be reopening on July 4 in the city, he said: “That is what is happening across England on Saturday the 4th of July and they will, I expect – unless we get instructions to the contrary – be happening here, as they ought to be along with the rest of England.”

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