Sunderland and Gateshead have been added to a coronavirus ‘hotspot’ watchlist as cases rise again.
Coronavirus researchers have added 11 more ‘hotspots’ in total to their UK watchlist amid doubts over the June 21 target for lifting lockdown restrictions.
Tameside, North Lanarkshire, Bury, Leicester and East Dunbartonshire sit at the top of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study’s weekly list, which is dominated by places in northern England and Scotland.
Bradford, Redbridge in east London and Warwickshire are among six places no longer on the list, which ranks local authorities with the highest estimates of active cases in the week to Tuesday.
The Delta variant, previously known as the Indian variant, is now the UK’s dominant strain, officials have said.
Tameside remained in top spot with a rate of 908 cases per 100,000 people, up from 485 a week ago.
North Lanarkshire had the second highest rate (669) after having the sixth highest figure previously.
Bury remained third with a rate of 606, (up from 434), while Leicester (531) and East Dunbartonshire (491) rounded out the top five.
North Ayrshire (486), Trafford (426), Kirklees (407), Barnsley (390) and Bolton ranked six through ten.
These 25 upper tier local authorities are on the Zoe Covid Study app’s watchlist of places with the highest estimates of prevalence rates average over the week to Tuesday.
- Tameside – 908 estimated cases per 100,000 people (last week’s rank: 1)
- North Lanarkshire – 669 (last week’s rank: 6)
- Bury – 606 (last week’s rank: 3)
- Leicester – 531 (last week’s rank: 15)
- East Dunbartonshire – 491 (last week’s rank: 7)
- North Ayrshire – 486 (last week’s rank: 10)
- Trafford – 426 (new)
- Kirklees – 407 (last week’s rank: 12)
- Barnsley – 390 (new)
- Bolton – 331 (last week’s rank: 8)
- Gateshead – 290 (new)
- Leeds – 288 (last week’s rank: 4)
- Manchester – 284 (last week’s rank: 11)
- Nottingham – 275 (new)
- Peterborough – 246 (last week’s rank: 5)
- Sunderland – 221 (new)
- Glasgow City – 211 (new)
- Sandwell – 180 (new)
- Wigan – 177 (new)
- Lancashire – 173 (last week’s rank: 19)
- Wrexham – 172 (new)
- Neath Port Talbot – 170 (new)
- Bedford – 168 (last week’s rank: 13)
- City of Edinburgh – 168 (last week’s rank: 18)
- South Ayrshire – 154 (new)
These six places have been removed from the watchlist:
Aberdeen (last week’s rank: 2)
- Redbridge (last week’s rank: 9)
- Bradford (last week’s rank: 14))
- Warwickshire (last week’s rank: 16)
- North Lincolnshire (last week’s rank: 17)
- Hillingdon (last week’s rank: 20)
The local watchlist is based on weekly reports from thousands of Zoe Covid Study app users in each area and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have tested positive for Covid.
Tim Spector, a founder of the Zoe Covid Study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “The UK picture is changing quickly now.
“Cases are rising, but not nationwide, it’s very much a regional issue.
“The North West of England and Scotland are the two regions with the highest prevalence, with rates higher than in some parts of Europe.
“However, the data highlights that the increase is happening in the younger age groups, suggesting the start of an epidemic in the young.
“He can’t be too complacent, and we are monitoring things closely.”
Professor Spector added: “The ending of lockdown is on everyone’s minds and given the current situation, I believe we should continue to soften restrictions but not lift them all just yet.
“While unlikely, it’s too early to tell if these increases are going to have any impact on hospital admissions or death rate.”
He said it would be “sensible” to keep measures such as working from home, wearing face masks on public transport and indoor capacity limits.
The expert added: “What’s really important moving forward is having the flexibility to deal with local outbreaks while letting the rest of the country and economy get back to normal at the same time.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday it remains “too early” to say whether all of England’s coronavirus restrictions can end on June 21.
Speaking ahead of a G7 health ministers’ meeting, he told reporters: “It’s too early to say what the decision will be about step four of the road map, which is scheduled to be no earlier than June 21.
“Of course I look at those data every day, we publish them every day, the case numbers matter but what really matters is how that translates into the number of people going to hospital, the number of people sadly dying.
“The vaccine breaks that link – the question is how much the link has yet been broken because the majority of people who ended up in hospital are not fully vaccinated.
“That’s a good sign if you like because it means that the vaccine is clearly protecting people from ending up in hospital but it also demonstrates that we need to keep going with this vaccine programme.”
The Zoe study estimated there are currently 4,608 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average, based on swab test data from up to five days ago.
It is a rise of 45 per cent on last week, when there were 2,550 daily cases, and similar to where numbers were two weeks ago, said researchers.
The UK R value is thought to be 1.1, with regional values of 1.2 in Scotland, 1.1 in England and 0.9 in Wales. An estimate for Northern Ireland was not available.
New incidence data show there are 10 times more cases in under-40s than over-60s, the study found.
The study also found that a small proportion of people have become infected with the virus despite receiving two doses of a vaccine.
Researchers collected reports from 123 app users who tested positive for coronavirus despite receiving two jabs.
A further 123 reported testing positive after receiving one dose.
The study suggests the approximate risk of Covid infection in unvaccinated Brits is 1 in 6,710.
The estimated risk of catching the virus after one vaccine dose is one in 14,503, and for those who have received two jabs it is one in 34,583, said researchers.
The latest data is based on 6,639 swab tests carried out between May 16 and 29, and it excludes the lateral flow tests.