Investigation Launched into BLM Protests' Link to COVID-19 Spike in UK
Officials fear Black Lives Matter rally in Birmingham may have triggered new outbreak
UK officials have launched a national investigation amid fears the recent Black Lives Matter protests led to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Birmingham.
Birmingham City Council has ordered an inquiry into a surge in cases seen 10 days after thousands flooded the city's streets on June 4, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Huge crowds gathered in Birmingham's Centenary Square to stage a rally following the outcry over the police killing of George Floyd in America.
Birmingham City Council had supported the BLM movement but urged protesters to keep two meters/six feet apart and not to gather in groups of more than six people.
A probe is now underway after Dr. Justin Varney said the city had suffered a "small spike" of around 25 daily cases between June 14-16.
Dr. Varney, director of public health for Birmingham City Council, says there may be a link between the mass gathering and the spike in cases, even though Public Health England insists "there is currently no evidence" to make such a connection.
"Our protest was on June 4 and we started to get a rise on June 14, 15, and 16, and many of those cases don't have an identified locus," he told the Telegraph.
"So, they don't have a workplace, they're not at school, they're not at a hospital, they're not in a care home.
"So they are classified as unknown.
"To me, that suggests a link with the protests.
"If you look at the age profile, they weren't 70-year-olds.
"They were 20 or 30-year-olds."
Though the rise in cases was relatively small, any increase in infections among younger people, who may be asymptomatic and unknowingly passing it on to older relatives, was a concern, Dr. Varney added.
He also suggested the contact tracing service should quiz people on whether they have been to protests or other mass gatherings since the start of the outbreak.
Around 4,000 people were thought to have descended on the second city for the event last month.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Around 4,000 people took part in a peaceful protest around #Birmingham city center today.
"The protesters were loud and passionate and made their voices clearly heard.
"There were no arrests and no disorder."
There have been demonstrations and protests across the world following the death of African American Mr. Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25.
A white police officer continued to kneel on Mr. Floyd's neck for several minutes, even as he said he could not breathe.
A Public Health England spokesperson said: "We are working closely with local authorities, Directors of Public Health and NHS Test, and Trace to monitor variations of positive cases of COVID-19 in their local context.
"There is currently no evidence that links case rates in Birmingham with the Black Lives Matter protests.
"We will continue to work with Birmingham City Council to review the data and monitor the situation."