Matt Hancock declares coronavirus surge in wrong UK area

Matt Hancock on the BBC. Photograph: BBC.

Matt Hancock on the BBC. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

Matt Hancock has incited panic at a West Yorkshire town after announcing a spike in coronavirus cases in the area when the real epicentre was actually 16 miles away.

Hancock told BBC Breakfast and the Today show that Keighley, in West Yorkshire, was encountering a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Speaking on the BBC Today show, the minister said: 'I first set out at the Downing Street press conference that there was a local problem in Leicester last Friday and at the same time there was also a local problem in Keighley.'

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He added: 'Whilst working in Keighley we managed to get that spike under control.'

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He then repeated the claims during another interview with the national broadcaster.

It is believed the health minister was actually trying to reference another area in the county - Kirklees. The metropolitan borough is home to a meat processing plant at the centre of 165 positive cases earlier this month.

Bradford council, which covers Keighley, has reassured its residents in a message from its official Twitter account.

'Just to calm everyone down a bit ... There's no new Covid-19 spike in Keighley,' officials tweeted.

'@MattHancock confused Keighley with a different area on TV and radio this morning. Please keep maintaining social distance & washing hands so we don't need to announce a local outbreak in the future.'

Andy Brown, a local Green politician from Keighley, shared: 'I've just heard Matt Hancock boast on the radio that they controlled a Leicester style outbreak last week in #Keighley. Local public had absolutely no information about this. So I stood in a queue in Keighley at a DIY store on Saturday with no information about additional risk.'

The blunder comes after the prime minister was asked to stop making false claims about a lockdown in Weston-super-Mare.

Weston-super-Mare local councillor Mike Bell called the claims 'damaging', saying that there 'by no stretch' any lockdown in the area.

The Kober plant in Cleckheaton was shut earlier this month after a cluster of new cases emerged. The meat factory, which supplies Asda, has only recently reopened.

Earlier this month Hancock was mocked for confusing the name of campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford.

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