Three in 10 local authority areas in the UK are recording their highest rate of new Covid-19 cases since mass testing began in summer 2020, new analysis shows.
The areas include around three-quarters of authorities in north-west England, nearly two-thirds in the West Midlands and almost half in the East Midlands.
But no London boroughs are on the list, while only a tiny number of areas in the south-east and eastern England are now at record levels, suggesting the latest surge in cases may have peaked in these parts of the country.
In a similar survey in the week before Christmas, two-thirds of local authorities in London were reporting record case rates.
The new figures, which have been compiled by the PA news agency, show that:
– 29 of the 39 local authorities in north-west England now have record Covid-19 case rates, led by Barrow-in-Furness (1,554.1 cases per 100,000 people), Bury (1,489.7) and Warrington (1,471.4). Other areas at record levels include Blackpool, Bolton, Liverpool and Wigan.
– In the West Midlands, 18 of the 30 local authorities are now seeing record rates, led by Stafford (1,178.7), Lichfield (1,119.9) and Cannock Chase (1085.9).
– 17 of the 40 local authorities in the East Midlands have record case rates, including Chesterfield (1,189.4), Leicester (1,036.3) and Lincoln (1,087.5).
– London still has the highest local rates in the UK, accounting for nine of the top 10 and 17 of the top 20. Lambeth has the highest rate of all, 2,415.4, though this is down week-on-week from 3,029.1.
– Only one of the 11 local authorities in Northern Ireland is currently not at a record high: Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon.
– Northern Ireland also has the highest rate of the four UK nations (1,310.2), followed by England (1,226.0), Wales (1,150.4) and Scotland (1,068.2) – all of which are record highs.
Figures are for the seven days to December 25, as data for more recent days is still incomplete.
In total, 112 of the 377 local authority areas in the UK (30 per cent) are now recording their highest Covid-19 case rates since mass testing was rolled out across the country in May and June 2020.
Figures for case rates in the early months of the pandemic are not directly comparable, as only a small number of people were being tested, mostly in hospitals and care homes.
The contrast between the south and east corner of the UK, and the rest of the country, reflects the way the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread in recent weeks – in particular how London was the first area of the UK where Omicron became the dominant variant of the virus.
Of the 112 local authority areas with record case rates, only two are in south-east England (Cherwell and Worthing) and four are in eastern England (Bedford, King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Mid Suffolk and South Norfolk).
In Scotland, 11 of the 32 local authorities are seeing record rates, along with eight of the 22 authorities in Wales.
In addition, 11 of the 21 local authorities in Yorkshire and Humber are at record levels, plus two of the 12 authorities in north-east England.