Three of 10 worst places for Covid infections in our region

Virus levels are falling, but latest figures show the West Midlands is now England’s coronavirus epicentre.

Three of the 10 worst places for Covid infections are to be found in our region. And while it is encouraging to see the infection rates drop, they are still extremely high when compared to the summer.

The figures suggest that the Midlands and the North West are now the areas with the highest infection rates.

London and the South East has shown a dramatic fall that has been quicker than that experienced here.

And no part of England or Wales now have rates of more than 1,000, suggesting that lockdown is finally having an effect.

Knowsley in Merseyside continues to have the highest rate in England in the seven days to January 21 with 900.2 cases per 100,000 people. This is down from 1,178.6 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 14.

Sandwell in the West Midlands has the second highest rate, down from 910.0 to 833.3, with 2,737 new cases. Wolverhampton and Walsall are also in the top 10 for infection rates, although both shown a marked drop on the week before.

The figures, for the seven days to January 21, are based on tests carried out in laboratories and in the wider community.

Of the 315 local areas in England, only 27 have seen a rise in case rates. A total of 287 – 91 per cent – have seen a fall and one is unchanged.

Official figures also show a tentative drop in the number of people being admitted to hospital, with 27,039 nationally, a drop of 7.3 per cent on the week before.

This, however, is being driven by falling numbers in the South East, with hospital numbers in this region under pressure. New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, for example, saw a 17.3 per cent increase for the same period.

Separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that coronavirus accounted for four in 10 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending January 15 – the highest proportion recorded during the pandemic.

There were 7,245 deaths registered where ‘novel coronavirus’ was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales, the ONS said. This is a 19.6 per cent rise from the previous week, when 6,057 deaths were registered.

It is also the third highest weekly number recorded during the pandemic and, at 40.2 per cent, the week with the highest proportion of deaths involving Covid-19 recorded so far.

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes continued to rise, with 1,271 deaths in care homes registered in the week ending January 15. This is up 32.3 per cent from 960 the previous week.

Overall, there were 1,719 deaths of care home residents involving coronavirus either at home, in hospital or another location, up 25.4 per cent from the previous seven days. Separate Care Quality Commission data shows it was notified of 2,314 deaths of care home residents in the week ending January 22.

This is a rise of 32 per cent from the 1,752 notifications it received in the week ending January 15.

More than half of hospital deaths and a third of care home deaths registered in the latest week involved Covid-19, the figures show.

So far nearly 116,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now happened in the UK, the figures show.

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