Covid-19 rates up sharply in more areas of north-west England
Covid-19 case rates are starting to rise steeply in more areas of north-west England, though rates in Bolton are continuing to fall, new analysis shows.
Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Hyndburn – all parts of Lancashire – are among those areas now recording some of the highest rates in the UK.
Blackburn with Darwen, also in Lancashire, remains the area with the highest rate in the country.
But while rates in Bolton are now dropping, other areas of Greater Manchester, such as Bury, Manchester and Salford, are recording a sharp rise.
The analysis by the PA news agency shows also shows that:
– Scotland has the highest rate of new cases of the four nations of the UK, though rates for Wales and Northern Ireland are still dropping
– Kirklees in West Yorkshire has one of the highest rates outside north-west England, but the rest of the region has yet to record similar levels
– Other areas of the country where rates have jumped sharply include Reigate & Banstead in Surrey, Watford in Hertfordshire and Slough in Berkshire
– While a majority of local areas across the UK (62%) have seen a week-on-week rise, most increases are slight and at a very low level
The analysis comes as some scientists have warned a third wave of coronavirus is already under way in the UK, driven by cases of the variant first identified in India and which are now in most areas of the country.
Further easing of lockdown rules are due to take place later this month, though a major lifting of restrictions in England on June 21 has yet to be confirmed by the Government.
Here is the analysis in full, by nation and region.
The latest case rates are for the seven days to May 27, and have been calculated by the PA news agency using Public Health England data.
Data for the most recent four days (May 28-31) has been excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.
Scotland currently has the highest rate of new cases of Covid-19 of the four nations of the UK: 57.8 per 100,000 people, up from 42.5 one week ago.
It is the highest rate for Scotland since March 30.
At the peak of the second wave of the virus at the start of the year, the rate for Scotland stood at 301.9.
Some 20 of the 32 local areas in Scotland are currently reporting a week-on-week rise in rates, with the biggest jumps in Renfrewshire (up from 57.0 to 145.2), Dundee (from 25.4 to 96.4) and South Ayrshire (11.5 to 58.6).
Renfrewshire is also recording the highest rate in Scotland and the sixth highest rate in the UK.
A majority of areas where rates are rising have recorded only slight increases, however.
It is a very different picture in Wales.
The national rate currently stands at just 7.6 cases per 100,000 people, down week-on-week from 8.8, and the lowest since the end of August 2020.
The highest local rate in Wales is in Bridgend, but this is only 21.2, up from 12.2.
A handful of local areas (eight out of 22) have recorded a very slight week-on-week rise.
– Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland has also seen a week-on-week fall in its rate of new cases, down from 31.7 to 27.4.
This is the lowest since the start of September 2020.
Just two of the 11 local areas are currently recording a rise: Mid & East Antrim (up from 12.9 to 40.2) and Ards & North Down (up from 2.5 to 5.6).
The highest rate in Northern Ireland is for Derry City & Strabane, but this has fallen week-on-week from 78.0 to 64.1.
The overall rate for England stands at 28.9 cases per 100,000 people, up week-on-week from 22.5 and the highest since April 7.
There are big regional variations in case rates across England, however.
– North-west England
North-west England is currently the regional hotspot of new cases of Covid-19.
Case rates are rising in most areas; only seven of the 39 local authorities recorded a week-on-week fall in the most recent figures.
Four of the top five biggest week-on-week increases in case rates in the UK are all in the North West, and all in Lancashire: Rossendale (up from 76.9 to 316.2), Blackburn with Darwen (281.2 to 416.2), Ribble Valley (24.6 to 129.7) and Hyndburn (66.6 to 162.9).
Blackburn with Darwen also has the highest rate for any local area in the UK, followed by Bolton (where rates have fallen from 452.1 to 386.0), Rossendale and Hyndburn.
In total, 15 of the top 20 highest rates in England are in the North West.
These include parts of Greater Manchester outside Bolton, including Manchester itself (up from 59.7 to 100.4), Salford (32.1 to 98.1) and Bury (61.3 to 96.9).
The rate for the whole region currently stands at 73.2 cases per 100,000 people: up week-on-week from 48.9, and the highest since mid-March.
At the peak of the second wave, the rate stood at 650.4.
– Yorkshire and the Humber
Outside north-west England, the situation for much of England is very different.
In neighbouring Yorkshire and the Humber, for example, the regional rate currently stands at 38.1 – around half that of the North West – and is up only slightly week-on-week from 35.2.
Most local areas have also seen a slight week-on-week increase, but only two are currently recording rates above 50 per 100,000.
One is Bradford, where the rate is up from 51.7 to 55.9.
The other is Kirklees, which shares part of its border with Bradford, and here the rate is much higher than anywhere else in the region: 118.9, up from 99.1 – high enough to put it in the top 10 highest rates in England.
Local authority health teams will be watching this area closely over the next few days to see if rates continue to rise – and whether this trend starts to appear in nearby areas.
– North-east England
The regional rate for north-east England is even lower than neighbouring Yorkshire: 20.4, up very slightly from 19.4 one week earlier.
At the peak of the second wave the regional rate stood at 484.9.
North Tyneside has the highest local rate in the region (55.3, up from 52.4) while Northumberland has the lowest (9.3, up from 8.1).
Rates have increased slightly in most areas, but not by enough to put any area in the top 30 highest rates in England.
– West Midlands
Rates are typically low in this region as well, with Worcester currently recording the highest (40.5, down from 48.4) while Newcastle-under-Lyme has the lowest (4.6, down from 7.0).
Around two-thirds of areas have recorded a slight week-on-week rise in the latest figures, with the biggest increase in Birmingham (up from 23.4 to 36.4).
The overall rate for the region is currently 19.3, up from 15.5 in the previous week.
– East Midlands
There has been a very slight rise in the regional rate for the East Midlands, up week-on-week from 21.2 to 23.0.
Charnwood in Leicestershire has seen the biggest rise of any local area, up from 13.5 to 49.5.
A majority of areas (23 out of 40) have seen a week-on-week fall, however.
Leicester is one of the areas of the country where cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus are concentrated, and it has the highest rate in the region (81.3).
But this is some way ahead of the areas with the second and third highest rates (Charnwood on 49.5 and High Peak on 47.5).
– Eastern England
Like Leicester, Bedford is a part of the country where the Indian variant is concentrated, and as such it has the highest rate of any local area in eastern England.
The rate is currently falling, however, and currently stands at 162.7, down week-on-week from 186.4.
Bedford is very much an outlier for eastern England, where the regional rate is currently 19.5 – up very slightly from 17.5.
Nearly two-thirds of local areas in the region have seen a week-on-week increase in rates, but in most places the rise has been slight.
The one exception is Watford, where the rate has jumped from 35.2 to 76.6.
The regional rate for London stands at 27.2, up week-on-week from 21.3.
At the peak of second wave the rate reached 1,118.5 – the highest for any region of the UK.
All but four of the 32 local areas in the capital are currently recording a rise, but most are slight.
The biggest rise is in Kingston-upon-Thames, where the rate has increased from 42.3 to 71.0. This is also the highest rate in London.
In Hounslow, one of the areas where the Indian variant is concentrated, the rate is up slightly from 51.6 to 57.1.
– South-east England
The Kent variant of Covid-19 helped drive the regional rate for south-east England to a peak of 775.7 cases per 100,000 people at the start of this year.
The rate currently stands at just 19.2 – the second lowest in England – and is up slightly week-on-week from 11.7.
Most local areas in south-east England are now showing a similarly slight week-on-week rise in rates.
There are some exceptions, however.
In Reigate & Banstead in Surrey, the rate has jumped sharply from 18.8 to 72.6 – the highest anywhere across southern England; in Slough in Berkshire, it has risen from 28.1 to 62.2; and in Reading, also in Berkshire, it has jumped from 37.1 to 70.5.
– South-west England
South-west England continues to have the lowest regional rate in England, as it has done for much of the second wave of the pandemic.
The current rate is 8.8 cases per 100,000 people: virtually unchanged on 8.9 one week earlier, and down very slightly from 12.8 a month ago.
Most local areas are recording rates below 10 per 100,000. Two in five areas have seen a week-on-week rise, but these are mostly very slight.
Only one area has recorded a rise in double figures: Gloucester, where the rate has increased from 11.6 to 37.9.