New Covid hotspots emerging in North West as 211 areas of England record rise in rates
Covid-19 hotspots are starting to emerge in further parts of north west England, with the region recording some of the highest rates in the UK.
While cases in Bolton are continuing to fall, latest data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Hyndburn - all parts of Lancashire - are now among the worst affected areas.
Blackburn with Darwen, also in Lancashire, continues to have the highest rate in the country, while parts of Greater Manchester, including Bury, Salford and Manchester are recording a sharp rise.
Outside of the North West, Kirklees in West Yorkshire has one of the highest rates, while cases are also climbing in Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, Watford in Hertfordshire and Slough in Berkshire.
PHE England data from 29 May to 1 June shows that of the 315 areas in England, 211 - or 67 per cent - have seen a rise in rates, while 96 (30 per cent) have seen a fall, and eight remain unchanged.
The figures come as scientists warn the planned end of all lockdown restrictions in England on 21 June may need to be delayed due to the highly transmissible Delta Covid-19 variant, which is now in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Scotland has the highest rate of new coronavirus cases across all four nations of the UK, and rates in Wales and Northern Ireland are continuing to drop.
Here’s how case rates compare across the UK, based on the latest PHE for the seven days to 27 May.
Scotland currently has the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the UK at 57.8 cases per 100,000 people, up from 42.5 in the week previous. This marks the highest rate for Scotland since 30 March.
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, up from 25.4 to 96.4, and South Ayrshire, up from 11.5 to 58.6.
Renfrewshire is recording the highest rate in Scotland and the sixth highest rate in the UK.
While a majority of areas are recording rising rates, these are only slight increases.
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, at 21.2 cases, up from 12.2 in the week before.
Only eight out of 22 areas have recorded a very slight week-on-week rise.
Northern Ireland has also seen a week-on-week fall in its rate of new cases, down from 31.7 to 27.4, marking the lowest figure since the start of September 2020.
Just two of the 11 local areas are currently recording a rise, including Mid and East Antrim, up from 12.9 to 40.2, and Ards and North Down, up from 2.5 to 5.6.
Derry City and Strabane has the highest rate at the moment, 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 7 April, but big regional variations can be seen across the country.
North West England is currently the regional hotspot of new cases of Covid-19, with only seven of the 39 local authorities recording a week-on-week fall. In total, 15 of the top 20 highest rates in England are in the North West.
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. These include Rossendale, up from 76.9 to 316.2, Blackburn with Darwen, up from 281.2 to 416.2, Ribble Valley, up from 24.6 to 129.7 and Hyndburn, up from 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.
In neighbouring Yorkshire and the Humber, 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. These are Bradford, up from 51.7 to 55.9, and Kirklees, up from 99.1 to 118.9, putting it in the top 10 highest rates in England.
The regional rate for North East England is even lower at 20.4, up very slightly from 19.4 one week earlier.
North Tyneside has the highest local rate in the region, up from 52.4 to 55, while Northumberland has the lowest at 9.3, up from 8.1.
Rates are typically low in the West Midlands as well, with Worcester currently recording the highest at 40.5, down from 48.4, while Newcastle-under-Lyme has the lowest at 4.6, down from 7.0.
Around two-thirds of areas have recorded a slight week-on-week rise, 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.
In the East Midlands, there has been a very slight rise in the regional rate, 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, but 23 out of 40 areas have seen a week-on-week fall.
Leicester is one of the areas of the country where cases of the Delta Covid variant are concentrated, and it has the highest rate in the region at 81.3.
In Eastern England, Bedford has the highest rate of any local area in this region at 162.7, down from 186.4.
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.
In London, the regional rate stands at 27.2, up week-on-week from 21.3, and 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.
The rate in South East England currently stands at just 19.2 – the second lowest in England – and is up slightly week-on-week from 11.7.
Most local areas are showing a similarly slight week-on-week rise in rates, but the rate has jumped sharply in Reigate and Banstead in Surrey from 18.8 to 72.6 – the highest anywhere across southern 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, with the current rate at 8.8, virtually unchanged from 8.9 one week earlier.