England’s ACTUAL Covid hotspots: Infection rates have tripled in 0.6% of wards in a week


Coronavirus infection rates have tripled or more in 0.6 per cent of council wards across England, with a six-fold surge in one village in East Yorkshire mystifying its residents. 

South Cave, a village 13 miles (21km) west of Hull and home to 5,000 people, saw its infection rate surge from 123 cases per 100,000 people in the week to February 2 to 750 by February 9. During the latest week 55 people there tested positive for the virus in just seven days. Residents told local news website Hull Live they were ‘gobsmacked’ that cases had shot up. 

Nationally, the same weekly data shows 21.3 per cent of almost 6,500 council wards saw their positive test rates rise between February 2 and 9,  despite England’s lockdown still being in full force. Forty-two of these saw Covid infections triple. 

The small areas — which are home to around 8,000 people each, on average — with the highest infection rates were in Rutland, Dorset, Staffordshire, Knowsley, Bedford, Walsall, Fenland, Doncaster and Liverpool, as well as South Cave.

But looking at larger borough areas, of which there are 315 across all of England, analysis shows that cases have come down in 95 per cent of authorities.

And hospital data is promising, too, with the number of inpatients with Covid-19 now at half of its January peak in England – with 17,694 down from 34,336 – and patient numbers down 41 per cent UK-wide.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today that there is still ‘some way to go’ in ending the second wave of Covid in the UK but said there was hope jabs would stop the virus spreading. Boris Johnson will lay out his roadmap out of lockdown next Monday.

Boris Johnson says he wants to make ‘cautious but irreversible’ changes with roadmap to freedom due next Monday

Boris Johnson today insisted he wants the UK to make ‘cautious but irreversible’ progress when lockdown starts to be lifted as he prepares to unveil his exit strategy on Monday next week.

The Prime Minister, who will hold a Downing Street press conference at 5pm, said the roadmap out of lockdown will include specific target dates for reopening different sectors of the economy and society.

But he stressed dates will be when the Government aims ‘to do something at the earliest’ and if there is a spike in infection rates ministers ‘won’t hesitate’ to delay the reopening.

His comments came as scientific experts said they ‘confidently expect’ the current national shutdown to be the last one – as long as a new vaccine-busting variant is not discovered.

Earlier, Matt Hancock hailed a ‘little step towards freedom for us all’ after the Government hit its 15million vaccinations target as he slapped down Tory demands to lift all lockdown rules by the end of April.

The Health Secretary said ‘there is a long way to go’ before life can return to normal and while coronavirus cases are falling ‘sharply’ the number of people in hospital with the disease is still ‘too high’.

He also said it is ‘too early to say’ whether the falling number of deaths is ‘directly due’ to the vaccine roll-out.

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Mr Hancock’s comments represent a firm rebuke to the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs which has demanded Mr Johnson remove all legal restrictions in England by the start of May.

Ministers are said to be discussing plans to allow shops to re-open, families to be re-united and self-catering staycations to be given the go ahead if Covid-19 infection rates continue to plummet.

Plans to ease lockdown were boosted yesterday by figures showing the dramatic impact vaccines are already having as Mr Johnson last night confirmed the country had hit its target of vaccinating the 15million most vulnerable people two days ahead of schedule.

Mr Hancock described hitting the target as an ’emotional moment because it is the moment that protects us and also it is just a little step towards freedom for us all’.

The PM said the number of new cases has already dropped ‘very considerably’ preparing the way for lockdown measures to be relaxed.

It is thought that this could mean the re-opening of High Street shops within weeks as well as the easing of restrictions on outdoor exercise and socialising.

Ministers are also said to be considering plans to allow for families of a single household to travel across the UK for an Easter holiday in self-catered accommodation.

It has led to growing hope that families will be able to meet outside by Easter as early as next month to allow grandchildren to reunite with their grandparents.

Granular local data show positive test rates increased in 1,453 out of 6,791 wards known as middle super output areas, each of which generally has a population of between 5,000 and 20,000 people.

In 42 of these areas in England, the week-on-week increase in cases between February 2 and February 9 was 200 per cent or more — meaning that the number of people testing positive tripled.

In Northallerton South and Leeming Bar, in North Yorkshire, the rate rose seven-fold, with 21 new cases – this was the only area to see a bigger increase than South Cave, Newbald and Little Weighton.

The South Cave area now has the fifth highest MSOA infection rate in the country, according to data published by the Department of Health.         

During the latest week 55 people – more than one per cent of the population there – tested positive for the virus in just seven days.

The rural authority had by far the biggest spike in infections in all of the East Riding of Yorkshire in that week with cases up 511 per cent, more than double the second biggest rise of 225 per cent. 15 out of 42 wards in the area saw cases rise. 

Only one of the tiny council wards in England had an infection rate higher than one per cent in the week ending February 9, which was Market Overton, Cottesmore and Empingham in Rutland, East Midlands, with a rate of 1,201.

Others rounding out the top 10 all had infection rates higher than 650 positive tests per 100,000 people – 0.6 per cent of the population within a week. 

They were Underhill and the Grove in Dorset (861); Featherstone West, Coven and Shareshill in Staffordshire (844); Kirkby South East in Knowsley (761); Harpur in Bedford (742); Leamore in Walsall (714); Wisbech North in Fenland (686); Hatfield East in Doncaster (680) and Fazakerley South in Liverpool (656). 

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The areas are evenly distributed across the country, with two each in the North West, North East, Midlands and East of England, and one in the South West, but none in the South East or London.

A bigger-picture analysis of infection rates found that, across England, cases came down in 95 per cent of the 315 local authority areas – these are larger than middle super output areas and envelop them.

Just 12 areas saw their positive test rates increase, while the numbers fell in 301 places. Two did not rise or fall in the week to February 10.     

The highest case rate was in Corby in Northamptonshire, with 277 new cases recorded in the seven days to February 10 – which equated to a rate of 384 cases per 100,000 people. This was down on the previous week.  

The highest week-on-week increase for these bigger areas was in Copeland, Cumbria, where the rate rose from 178 cases per 100,000 to 238, with 162 new positive tests.

Calderdale in West Yorkshire had the second highest rise, up from 164 to 207, with 438 new cases.

Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire had the third highest, up from 213 to 248, with 304 new cases. 

Nationally, the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has plummeted in recent weeks.

NHS Test & Trace figures show that 92,399 people were diagnosed with the virus across the UK last week, down from 128,504 the week before. This was a decline of 28 per cent in a week.

And it was significantly lower than the 400,640 people who tested positive in the first week of January while the second wave was at its peak.

Academy chief casts doubt on ‘optimistic’ plans to get all pupils back into school at the start of March 

An academy chief today cast doubt on ‘optimistic’ plans to get all pupils back into school at the start of March as he warned dates were ‘being pulled out of thin air.’

As the PM faces mounting pressure to send children in England back to school, Downing Street has suggested that all primary and secondary children can return to classrooms three weeks today.

But Steve Chalke, the head of the Oasis Academies Trust, described Number 10’s plan as ‘impossible’.

He suggested ministers take a ‘regional approach’ by vaccinating all staff before sending pupils back.

He also warned schools needed to create more space including having marquees in playgrounds, to avoid children being ‘like sardines in a can’.

Mr Chalke is the founder of the Oasis Trust, which runs 53 schools around the country.

He warned against the chaotic scenes last September, when all children were sent back after the summer break, ‘like sardines into a can.’

He told BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme: ‘We’re optimistic because the vaccine seems to be working, we all want to get children back…because we know all children will learn better with their peers in a classroom than at home online or whatever.

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‘But optimism can be born of two things – dreams and hopes or planning and preparation.

‘What we don’t need is a false start. It’s one thing to open schools – it’s another thing to keep them open.’

It comes after the PM today insisted he wants the UK to make ‘cautious but irreversible’ progress when lockdown starts to be lifted as he prepares to unveil his exit strategy on Monday next week.

The Prime Minister, who will hold a Downing Street press conference at 5pm, said the roadmap out of lockdown will include specific target dates for reopening different sectors of the economy and society.

But he stressed dates will be when the Government aims ‘to do something at the earliest’ and if there is a spike in infection rates ministers ‘won’t hesitate’ to delay the reopening.

His comments came as scientific experts said they ‘confidently expect’ the current national shutdown to be the last one – as long as a new vaccine-busting variant is not discovered.

Earlier, Matt Hancock hailed a ‘little step towards freedom for us all’ after the Government hit its 15million vaccinations target as he slapped down Tory demands to lift all lockdown rules by the end of April.

The Health Secretary said ‘there is a long way to go’ before life can return to normal and while coronavirus cases are falling ‘sharply’ the number of people in hospital with the disease is still ‘too high’.

He also said it is ‘too early to say’ whether the falling number of deaths is ‘directly due’ to the vaccine roll-out.

Mr Hancock’s comments represent a firm rebuke to the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs which has demanded Mr Johnson remove all legal restrictions in England by the start of May.

Ministers are said to be discussing plans to allow shops to re-open, families to be re-united and self-catering staycations to be given the go ahead if Covid-19 infection rates continue to plummet.

Plans to ease lockdown were boosted yesterday by figures showing the dramatic impact vaccines are already having as Mr Johnson last night confirmed the country had hit its target of vaccinating the 15million most vulnerable people two days ahead of schedule.

Mr Hancock described hitting the target as an ’emotional moment because it is the moment that protects us and also it is just a little step towards freedom for us all’.

The PM said the number of new cases has already dropped ‘very considerably’ preparing the way for lockdown measures to be relaxed.

It is thought that this could mean the re-opening of High Street shops within weeks as well as the easing of restrictions on outdoor exercise and socialising.

Ministers are also said to be considering plans to allow for families of a single household to travel across the UK for an Easter holiday in self-catered accommodation.

It has led to growing hope that families will be able to meet outside by Easter as early as next month to allow grandchildren to reunite with their grandparents.



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