LEICESTER has had to go into an extended lockdown for a further two weeks.

Non-essential shops and local schools have had to shut down again; pubs cannot open as promised and people living outside the city boundaries have been asked to avoid entering the city boundaries for the two-week period.

Yesterday, a national report from Public Health England said that Blackburn with Darwen was one of ten English local authority areas where there was national concern about raised rates of new cases of Covid-19.

I want to be very clear that although rates in the borough are indeed currently higher than the national and regional rates, these rates are nowhere near the rates at which lockdown would be required.

In terms of numbers rather than rates, the Blackburn with Darwen confirmed cases have now reduced to around 10 confirmed cases a day over the past two weeks.

That is nowhere near the 900 new cases Leicester has experienced over the last two weeks.

We are not complacent. Many pandemics have a ‘long tail’ – a continued ‘rumble of cases’ that are sustained in vulnerable communities. They can also generate sudden second spikes, especially where good social distancing practices are not maintained.

What is clear from Leicester is that the city experienced a rapid number of simultaneous outbreaks in different workplaces.

Individuals infected from these settings carried the virus back to households and communities and within a two-week period this generated around 900 new cases.

The situation moved from specific outbreaks to a situation involving wider community spread.

What lessons can we learn?

Firstly, we must not assume the pandemic risks are over because the rates have fallen.

Covid-19 can still offer random acts of epidemiological violence at short notice on communities who may be tempted to let down their guard.

Like sparks in the stubble, the fire of rising infection rates can restart quickly.

So, everything we have said already to prevent its spread, keep doing. Work at home if you can, maintain 2m social distancing when possible, or 1m with mitigations if you can’t.

Mitigations are face-coverings, avoiding being face to face where possible and not shouting, singing or chanting where the extra breath required may spread the virus further. Wash your hands as often as possible. The rules on lockdown may have changed but the virus hasn’t.

Most important for this weekend - take it easy and stay safe on the big lockdown lifting day tomorrow.

We are all going to need to help each other stick to the rules for being Covid-safe.

If we protect each other we can save both lives and livelihoods.