8 Covid hotspots on UK watchlist as rising cases puts June 21 in doubt

EIGHT areas on scientists’ Covid watchlist are still seeing cases rise, as the June 21 lockdown lifting is on edge.

There are currently 25 areas on the Zoe Covid Symptom Study’s watchlist, based on the prevalence of the virus.

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These places are on the ZOE Covid Symptom study app watchlist and have increasing numbers of people reporting Covid disease

Of those, 19 areas have seen infection rates either remain stable or rise within the past week.

Nottingham, Luton, Sunderland, Oldham, Tameside, Edinburgh, South Ayrshire and Wrexham have increasing numbers of people reporting Covid disease. 

Of them, Tameside, in Greater Manchester, has the highest infection rate, according to data up to May 31. 

The researchers estimate that 990 people per 100,000 people currently have Covid, based on swab tests logged by app users.

Nottingham, a new addition to the watchlist, has almost 700 symptomatic Covid cases per 100,000 people.

Rates are far lower in Bolton, (293), despite it being the “hotspot” of the Delta variant, which first emerged in India. 

Cases appear to be coming down in the Manchester town, as Public Health England said yesterday there are “encouraging signs” the transmission rate is falling and “actions taken by residents and local authority teams have been successful”.

HOTSPOTS

Meanwhile, other areas are now dealing with fresh spikes. 

Most of the areas on ZOE’s list are in the North West of England and Scotland.

But compared to last Friday’s report, there are now two places in Wales – Neath Port Talbot and Wrexham.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Delta variant is “spreading very quickly in the north-west of England, right on our border”.

There have been a small 97 cases in the country, but if this grows and puts pressure on the NHS, it could jeopardise easing more restrictions. 

Meanwhile, there are no longer any parts of London on ZOE’s watchlist, with Redbridge and Hillingdon removed.

25 watchlist areas

Listed as the place and it's prevalence in cases per 100,000. ▲ is up, ▼ is down and ● is the same.

East Midlands

Leicester (440) ▼

Nottingham (682) ▲ – new addition

East of England

Luton (186) ▲ – new addition

North East

Gateshead (214) ▼

Sunderland (355) ▲ – new addition

North West

Bolton (293) ●

Bury (647) ●

Lancashire (215) ●

Manchester (274) ●

Oldham (228) ▲ – new addition

Tameside (993) ▲

Trafford (567) ● – new addition

Wigan (241) ● – new addition

Scotland

City of Edinburgh (219) ▲

East Dunbartonshire (316) ▼

Glasgow City (224) ● – new addition

North Ayrshire (351) ▼

North Lanarkshire (653) ●

South Ayrshire (302) ▲ – new addition

Wales

Neath Port Talbot (190) ▼ – new addition

Wrexham (272) ▲ – new addition

West Midlands

Sandwell (210) ● – new addition

Yorkshire and The Humber

Barnsley (418) ▼ – new addition

Kirklees (381) ●

Leeds (278) ●

It comes after data from the app showed that cases of symptomatic Covid increased by 45 per cent in one week.

But cases are considerably higher in under 40s, suggesting “the start of a Covid epidemic in the young”.

Covid is most prevalent in those in their teens and 20s – 228 and 211 per 100,000.

Around 10-15 per 100,000 people aged 60 and over have the virus now.

Separate data from Public Health England shows the areas with the the biggest week-on-week rises are Rossendale, Ribble Valley, Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and South Ribble.

Blackburn with Darwen has the highest infection rate – at 438.9 new cases diagnosed in one week per 100,000.

June 21 at risk

The “crucial question” is whether a surge in new infections will translate to pressure on the NHS, according to Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome.

He said: “We know there is a time lag of several weeks between people first catching the infection, getting ill, going to hospital & ICUs, and dying.  

“Which is why we need to wait until as close as possible to 21st June, so we have all the data we need to make the right decision.

“This is perhaps the hardest UK policy decision of the last 18 months.  With cases and transmission increasing in the UK, and the new Delta variant now dominant, it’s crucial we wait and follow the data over the coming two weeks.”

His comments came in an open letter to the PM asking the UK to share its vaccines to reduce the risk of future variants.

Mutated versions of the coronavirus are already causing havoc in the UK, and could delay the June 21 “Freedom Day”.

Cases of the Delta/Indian variant have almost doubled in one week, and there are now signs if it is up to twice as severe.

Already health chiefs have confidence the strain weakens vaccine protection.

Leading scientist Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling helped push ministers to order the first UK lockdown, said today the data is “pointing this week in a more negative direction than it was last week”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “First of all, it’s not my job to make that decision, thankfully.

“I think the data is pointing this week in a more negative direction than it was last week, so it points towards the direction of being cautious.

“I think balancing, clearly, people’s desire – and there clearly is a built-up desire to get back to normal – against the potential risk is a very difficult judgment call.”

 

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