DUDLEY'S public health boss has rubbished reports the borough could be heading for a local lockdown to help in the fight against coronavirus.

A research project led by Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, ranked Dudley as one of three potential virus hotspot sites in the UK after analysing data from the COVID-19 Symptom Study app, developed by health science company ZOE.

The analysis combined the reports of users with software algorithms to try to predict who has the virus and track infections across the country and overseas and Dudley was flagged up as an area of concern along with Wolverhampton and Leicester – the latter of which has already been returned to lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases.

But Dudley's acting director of public health, Bal Kaur, has rubbished the study - calling it "inaccurate" and saying suggestions Dudley could be heading for a local lockdown were "not the case".

She said: "At this point none of our local or national data source suggest that an increase in the incidence of coronavirus is more likely in Dudley than elsewhere in the country."

Dudley had eight additional positive COVID-19 cases between June 29 and July 5, she said - adding: "This is exactly the same as the previous seven-day period and a continuation of the declining incidence of COVID-19 in Dudley."

According to the Public Health England dashboard Dudley has had 1,301 positive cases of coronavirus and the borough has an infection rate of 405.8 per 100,000 people.

Bal Kaur said "Dudley is below the West Midlands average."

She added: "The data collected by the coronavirus tracker app (as of July 5) - which is being used to suggest Dudley is a hotspot - also shows we have the second lowest estimated percentage of symptomatic residents in the Black Country and Birmingham. Dudley has 0.6 per cent, only Sandwell is estimated to have a lower percentage than us - 0.4 per cent. "

She said Dudley's public health team had been trying to contact the research team responsible for suggesting the borough could be a coronavirus hotspot.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said the data showed "a picture not recognised by what we are seeing here in Dudley".

He added: "The figures and facts are the ones ourselves and partners within local PHE and NHS deal with on a daily basis.

"The pandemic has seen a truly team effort which, alongside the efforts of the Dudley population, has seen the borough escape the worst effects and allow us to be prepared to come out of lockdown.

"Reports complied by others who don't have those facts to hand not only distort the picture but give a completely false impression on the progress made locally.

"Dudley far from being ready to go into a second lockdown is one of the top areas within the Midlands for dealing with COVID-19."