COVID infection rates have dropped below 500 per 100,000 in every area of UK except one

Yahoo Staff Writer
·3-min read

Weekly coronavirus infection rates have dropped below 500 per 100,000 people in every area of the UK but one.

The latest government figures, for the seven days up to 31 January, show that area is Sandwell in the West Midlands, which had 517.6 cases per 100,000 people.

The figures are in contrast with one month ago, on 5 January, when there were 34 areas in England which had more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

Sandwell is followed by Knowsley on Merseyside on 487.9 and Corby in Northamptonshire on 477.7. The Shetland Islands in Scotland have the lowest infection rate, at 4.4.

This interactive map, meanwhile, shows how many new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people there were in your area in the week up to 31 January (the figures for Northern Ireland are for the week up to 30 January).

The figures are a rolling average of the last seven days for which data is available.

Made with Flourish
Made with Flourish

It comes as the government announced more than half of all UK adults should receive a COVID-19 vaccine by May, as the jabs rollout was buoyed by studies suggesting they are safe and effective against a new strain.

Downing Street confirmed the vaccine programme planned to reach all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults aged 16-65 in an at-risk group, by May – having previously said it aimed to do so “by the spring”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock warned that “lots of things have got to go right” to hit the goal, including supply, but he said he was “sure” it was achievable. More than 10.9 million first doses have already been given.

Watch: Matt Hancock says all over-50s should be offered COVID vaccine by May

According to the government’s vaccines delivery plan, some 32 million people across the UK are estimated to fall into the first nine groups. There are 52.7 million people aged 18 and over in the UK.

The target was disclosed as the Cabinet Office announced local elections in England and Wales would go ahead as planned on 6 May – though voters will have to wear face coverings and will be asked to take their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot.

It will be seen as indicative of lockdown restrictions easing in the spring, with reports that outdoor team and individual sports, as well as outdoor gatherings, could be possible within weeks of a planned return of schools from 8 March.

Boris Johnson has faced sustained pressure from some Tory backbenchers to relax the measures as soon as possible, but scientists advising the government have warned against opening up too quickly.

Prof Graham Medley, chairman of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said ministers should “make decisions dependent on the circumstances, rather than being driven by a calendar of wanting to do things”.

But Mark Harper, chairman of the COVID Recovery Group, made up of lockdown-sceptic Conservative MPs, said it will be “almost impossible to justify having any restrictions in place at all” by the time the top nine groups have been vaccinated.

In a sign that the current measures are working, the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK fell to between 0.7 and 1, according to the latest government figures – down from between 0.7 and 1.1 last week.

And estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested about one in 65 people in private households in England had COVID between 24 and 30 January – compared with one in 55 the previous week.

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However, a further 1,014 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday and there were another 19,114 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Mr Johnson is due to publish a roadmap for lifting the restrictions later this month.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown