A national inquiry is set to be launched amid fears Black Lives Matter protests and VE Day celebrations led to a spike in coronavirus cases in Birmingham.  

Birmingham City Council has ordered a probe into a rise in cases seen 10 days after thousands gathered in the city on June 4, according to The Daily Telegraph

Crowds flocked to the city centre’s Centenary Square to stage a rally following outcry over the death of George Floyd in America. 

Thousands of protesters marched through Birmingham as part of the BLM movement on June 4 - but there are fears the gatherings led to a spike in coronavirus cases

Thousands of protesters marched through Birmingham as part of the BLM movement on June 4 – but there are fears the gatherings led to a spike in coronavirus cases

A campaigner, wearing a face covering, held up a sign at the event which read: 'I shouldn't have to protest this! Enough is enough!'

A campaigner, wearing a face covering, held up a sign at the event which read: ‘I shouldn’t have to protest this! Enough is enough!’

Protesters kneel as they show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Birmingham on June 4

Protesters kneel as they show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Birmingham on June 4

Birmingham City Council had supported the BLM movement but urged protesters to keep two metres apart and stay in groups of six or fewer. 

But an investigation is now set to get underway after Dr Justin Varney said the city had seen a ‘small spike’ of around 25 daily cases between June 14-16.

Dr Varney, director of public health for Birmingham City Council, said he believed there could be a link between the mass gathering and the spike in cases, even though Public Health England insists ‘there is currently no evidence’ behind 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, which was backed and attended by England and Aston Villa footballer Tyrone Mings.

The defender wrote at the time: ‘Nothing but energy & passion today. I make no apologies for standing up for what I believe in’ next to three photographs, two of which seem to show Mings wearing a face mask and a hooded jacket, alongside other demonstrators. The words ‘Won’t Be Silenced’ are written on the mask. 

Crowds flocked to the city centre's Centenary Square on June 4 to stage a rally following outcry over the death of George Floyd in America

Crowds flocked to the city centre’s Centenary Square on June 4 to stage a rally following outcry over the death of George Floyd in America

Despite council pleas to keep two metres apart and stay in groups of six or fewer, huge numbers of people were seen close together during the protests

Despite council pleas to keep two metres apart and stay in groups of six or fewer, huge numbers of people were seen close together during the protests

Demonstrators gathered in the city last months and held up signs in response to the death of George Floyd in the US

Demonstrators gathered in the city last months and held up signs in response to the death of George Floyd in the US

VE Day celebrations, pictured in Knowle, Bristol in May, may have also caused a spike in cases, officials fear

VE Day celebrations, pictured in Knowle, Bristol in May, may have also caused a spike in cases, officials fear

England footballer Tyrone Mings joined the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Birmingham on June 4

England footballer Tyrone Mings joined the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Birmingham on June 4

The Aston Villa defender was one of around 4,000 demonstrators to gather in the centre of the city

The Aston Villa defender was one of around 4,000 demonstrators to gather in the centre of the city

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: ‘Around 4,000 people took part in a peaceful protest around #Birmingham city centre 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 US city 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.’ 

MailOnline has contacted Birmingham City Council for comment.  



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