Forty-three authorities in England have suffered a spike in Covid-19 cases in the past week — but the outbreak in locked-down Leicester has shrunk by 18 per cent, official statistics revealed today.
Southampton endured the biggest week-on-week rise in coronavirus infection rates, jumping 12-fold from 0.4 new cases for every 100,000 people living in the city to 4.8 in the week that ended July 5.
Bromley and Islington also suffered massive spikes, with outbreaks in the London boroughs increasing from 0.6 to 2.1 and 0.8 to 2.9 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.
Public Health England figures today also revealed only three of the country’s ten current coronavirus hotspots — authorities with the highest actual rates of new cases — endured an increase in infection rates this past week.
Kirklees in Yorkshire saw its rate jump from 26.2 to 29.9, while it also increased from 20.8 to 24.2 in Blackburn with Darwen and from 18.1 to 19.8 in Bedford, according to the government statistics.
Leicester — still the worst-hit part of England with an outbreak three times bigger than the next worst-hit place — saw its infection rate decrease from 141.3 to 116. Other hotspots also saw cases drop.
Southampton, Bromley and Islington suffered the biggest week-on-week spikes in Covid-19 cases up to July 5, Public Health England (PHE) figures show. The 43 authorities where cases have increased are pictured
REVEALED: THE TWENTY AREAS IN ENGLAND WITH THE WORST COVID-19 INFECTION RATES?
Blackburn with Darwen
Cheshire West and Chester
The government now releases new data every week which shows how rates of positive coronavirus tests are changing in each area.
The current national infection rate is 6.4 per 100,000 people, and 33 local authorities are currently tipping that average.
Fifty three authorities have either seen their infection rate stay the same or increase the past week compared to the week before (up to June 28).
Of the top ten places where rates have hiked, eight are in the south of England, including Southampton, Bromley and Islington.
Significant hikes in case rates were also observed in Gateshead, Hampshire, Coventry, Gloucestershire, as well as the three London boroughs of Hackney, Lambeth, Newham.
But just because these areas saw the biggest increase in case rates does not necessarily mean the crises in the regions are spiralling out of control — it could be down to more testing taking place. It is sometimes difficult to work out why the infection rate is rising in some places than others.
The actual number of coronavirus infections in these areas is still very small and even just a handful of newly diagnosed cases in a week risks skewing the rate upwards.
Officials are likely to be keeping their eyes on a handful of areas where local lockdowns might need to be imposed because their overall rate of infections is much higher than the rest of the country.
According to the data, Leicester is still the worst affected area, with 116 cases per 100,000 people. The city became the first place in the country to have tight lockdown rules reimposed on June 30, while the rest of England started to loosen up, after a spike in Covid-19 infections.
But data shows the city’s rate of new Covid-19 cases dropped by 17.92 per cent in the week leading up to July 5, following a ‘stabilisation’ the week before.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in the House of Commons yesterday that the decline in the coronavirus infection rate in Leicester was ‘good news’.
However he added the city must remain in its local lockdown until at least July 18, when health chiefs first promised it would be re-evaluated.
Mr Hancock said he would not put a number on how far the infection rate had to fall before the lockdown would be lifted.
His counterpart, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said in Germany officials use a benchmark of 50 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 – which is more than half that of Leicester.
Leicester still has more than triple the amount of Covid-19 cases than the next worst hit area of Rochdale (32.7) in Greater Manchester.
Rochdale has seen its infection rate drop again for a second week in a row by six per cent, following a tumble of 34.75 per cent the week previously.
Rochdale council chief executive Steve Rumbelow said that although Rochdale is ‘not at all as bad as Leicester’, the authority had found it difficult to get detailed data on testing from Public Health England – which is crucial in managing local outbreaks.
The reason Leicester spiralled into a troublesome spot was because the withholding of testing information hindered local public health chief’s ability to keep on top of the virus.
Peter Soulsby, mayor of Leicester, told the BBC they had been trying to get ‘information about the level of testing in the city and the results of that testing in the city’ for weeks.
While published data suggested Leicester only had 80 new cases between June 13-26, it had in fact suffered 944 more – which was not revealed until it was too late and a local lockdown was slapped on the city.
Meanwhile, Bradford, with 31.83 cases per 100,000, has seen a week-on-week reduction in cases of more than 30 per cent.
Rotherham, Oldham, Barnsley and Peterborough – all in the top 10 hardest hit local authorities right now – have also seen improvements in infection rates over the past seven days.
Of the 50 authorities in England worst-hit by coronavirus, which has claimed at least 55,000 lives across the whole of the UK, 34 are in the North, suggesting a divide.
Three hotspots – Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen and Kirklees – are all struggling to push forward and shake the virus, seeing infection rates rising still.
Kirklees Council’s strategic director for public health, Rachel Spencer-Henshall, said ‘we are not where we would like to be’ in relation to the West Yorkshire district’s infection rate, Yorkshire Live reports.
In a briefing note for councillors she said: ‘After a steady overall decline, the rate of infection in Kirklees has gone up over the past week and we cannot ignore this. This is a powerful warning that now is not the time to become complacent and our fight against COVID-19 is not over.
‘We still remain some way behind the rates in Leicester and this increase does not currently mean we will go in to a local lockdown, but we are not where we would like to be.’
As to why the numbers in Kirklees are higher than elsewhere, the public team said it’s ‘very difficult to say for certain what the reason for the increase is’.
Ms Spencer-Henshall said: ‘In the past few weeks, we’ve acted quickly and decisively to contain outbreaks in local workplaces. This kind of action always leads to more tests and positive cases in the short term which will contribute to our increase.
‘We will be analysing the data further over the next few days to learn more and if we need to adjust our action, we will do so.’
Department of Health sources last week admitted local lockdowns could be ‘just days away’. But ministers have yet to officially confirm which parts of England are in the firing line.
Council leaders in areas threatened by Leicester-style lockdowns last week rejected the idea of rolling back the draconian curbs. Barnsley Council called for ‘extra care and vigilance’.
Meanwhile, some authorities that were in the danger zone the previous week have seen their infection rates stabilise or go back down.
Of the ten with the biggest jump in cases, eight have seen their infection rate drop back down again, including Wokingham, Barking and Dagenham, Knowsley and Richmond upon Thames.
It could be speculated that control measures have intensified in these places in response to figures, which has had a positive outcome on infection rates.
Redcar and Cleveland, which had a seven-fold increase in cases in the week leading up to June 28, the highest of any authority, has seen it’s infection rate almost completely reverse to what it was before (0.7).
But South Gloucestershire and Hillingdon, a west-London borough, have seen cases drive up once more a further 49.3 and 38.75 per cent, respectively.
It comes after Hillingdon Hospital closed to emergencies since Monday night after NHS officials said that up to 70 staff were in self-isolation including ‘a number’ who had tested positive.
|UTLA name||Rate per 100,000 population||Last Week||% Change|
|Blackburn with Darwen||24.2||20.8||16.15%|
|Cheshire West and Chester||11.5||9.7||18.16%|
|Telford and Wrekin||3.4||5.1||-33.40%|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||3.2||4.7||-31.21%|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||3.2||12.4||-73.87%|
|Kingston upon Hull, City of||3.1||3.8||-20.05%|
|Barking and Dagenham||2.8||5.7||-50.00%|
|North East Lincolnshire||2.5||1.9||32.98%|
|Kingston upon Thames||2.3||1.7||33.33%|
|Brighton and Hove||2.1||2.4||-14.11%|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||2.0||3.7||-45.36%|
|Herefordshire, County of||1.6||1.6||0.00%|
|Richmond upon Thames||1.5||3.1||-50.16%|
|Bristol, City of||1.5||1.9||-22.16%|
|Isle of Wight||1.4||2.1||-33.49%|
|Kensington and Chelsea||1.3||6.4||-80.00%|
|Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole||1.0||1.0||0.00%|
|Redcar and Cleveland||0.7||5.1||-85.74%|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||0.7||0.7||0.00%|
|Bath and North East Somerset||–||–||N/A|
|City of London||–||–||N/A|
|Cornwall and Isles of Scilly||–||1.4||N/A|
Source: Daily Mail