New data has revealed that the vast majority of local areas in England are seeing a rise in Covid-19 case rates, as London, the East and South East of England entered Tier 4 on Dec 20.
Over 85 per cent of local authority areas have seen their case rates rise in the last week, with an average weekly case rate of 258 per 100,000, according to the latest data from Public Health England.
London is now the worst affected region in England, with a huge case rate of 585 per 100,000 in the week up to Dec 18, and this has essentially doubled on its rate of 243 in the week before.
Havering in East London is currently the worst affected borough in the capital and its case rate is nearly double the London rate at 1,187 weekly cases per 100,000. The biggest riser is Epping Forest, which has seen a 124 per cent increase in infections over the last seven days.
Yet the place with the highest rate of infection across the entirety of England is Thurrock in Essex, another area that entered Tier 4, which imposes rules equivalent to the national restrictions in place in England over November. There the case rate stands at 1,240 per 100,000.
Covid-19 case rates are now above 1,000 cases per 100,000 people in nine local areas of England as of Dec 18: Thurrock (1,257.3), Havering (1,190.9), Epping Forest (1,146.6), Brentwood (1,095.8), Basildon (1,080.1), Medway (1,054.4), Rochford (1,041.6), Redbridge (1,040.6) and Castle Point (1,011.3).
The case rate for the wider East stands at 411 per 100,000 while the South East of England stands at 379.5 per 100,000. By contrast the South West has just 127.7 cases per 100,000, with some areas in the region managing to stay under Tier 1 – but every English region is seeing cases rise.
A new, more contagious strain of coronavirus is partly to blame for the huge rises in the new Tier 4 areas.
The Government’s analysis suggests this new strain is 70 per cent more transmissible, though there is no evidence that it is more deadly or unable to be protected against by vaccines.
Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, said there will be a spike in Covid cases after an “inevitable period of mixing” over Christmas, and suggested restrictions will be tightened over the coming weeks.
Read more: what are the rules in each tier?
Search for your area
Public Health England release a daily update on how many confirmed cases of coronavirus there are in each English local authority.
Type in your postcode in the tool below to find out how many cases there have been in your local area.
How are cases spreading in the UK?
Covid-19 is known to have been contracted by 2,110,314 in the UK and 68,307 people have died from the virus.
Scientists will be keeping a close eye on the spread of the virus, in particular among those aged 60 or over, and the Government will assess which tiers to move regions into every 14 days, depending on the case rate.
Now the UK has become the first western country to begin administering the coronavirus vaccine, hopes have been renewed that mass vaccination could help slow the infection rate, particularly among the vulnerable older generation.
Following approval by British regulators, a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations began on Dec 8, with a 90-year-old grandmother from Coventry becoming the first person to receive the Pfizer jab.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted an emergency use license to the Pfizer Biotech vaccine, and one million jabs were delivered to the NHS on Thursday, Dec 3.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine overall, which has over 90 per cent efficacy at preventing Covid-19.
How did coronavirus spread worldwide?
At the end of Dec 2019, the Chinese authorities sent out a public alert warning that a “pneumonia of unknown cause” had been identified in Wuhan, central China.
Some 10 days later, on Jan 7, scientists announced that a new coronaviruswas the source of the outbreak – quickly adding that it then did not appear to be spreading between humans.
At that point, fewer than 60 cases had been found. But now the virus, since given the name SARS-CoV-2, has spread to 185 countries, infecting more than 77.5 million people with the disease Covid-19 and killing more than 1.7 million.
This map, which updates automatically, shows where the disease is now, how many casesthere have been and how many people have died: