Local responses to coronavirus outbreaks could be threatened by a historic lack of investment in public health, government advisers warn.

Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance were speaking as councils were given new powers to close indoor and outdoor spaces and cancel events.

They were being questioned by peers on whether local public health teams would be able to cope over winter.

Public Health England has identified 12 areas of concern around the country.

Leicester remains subject to the highest level of concern, followed by Blackburn and Pendle in Lancashire.

Speaking to peers on the Lords’ Science and Technology committee, the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said, “countries that invested heavily in their public health systems” had coped best with the coronavirus pandemic.

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