Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Number of UK regions seeing Covid rises at highest since early January
7 June 2021, 14:54 | Updated: 7 June 2021, 14:55
Covid-19 case rates are now rising in more local areas of the UK than at any point since early January, new analysis by the PA news agency has shown.
The case rates are increasing in almost all parts of north-west England, London and Scotland, with nearly three quarters of local areas of the UK showing a week-on-week rise for the seven days to June 2 – the highest proportion since January 6.
The overall rate is still well below the peak of the second wave.
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It is thought that in some areas – such as Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Edinburgh – the rise is being partially driven by surge testing to detect the Delta variant, which means cases are being picked up that may not have been otherwise.
In addition, the proportion of regions seeing a rise is smaller when using a seven-day average to ‘flatten out’ fluctuations in the data.
If this technique is employed, nearly 30 fewer regions are seeing a rise, although the proportion is still high.
However, whilst the magnitude of the increase is likely to be slightly skewed, it is generally accepted that cases are on the rise once more.
Separate figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggest that around one in 640 people in private households were estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to May 29 - up from one in 1,120 in the previous week.
A growing number of areas are recording sharp jumps in rates, some of which are large enough to push them over the symbolic level of 100 cases per 100,000 people.
However, a rise in cases was expected as restrictions eased and things began to open up.
What remains to be seen is whether this will lead to a subsequent increase in hospitalisations and deaths, or whether vaccines will have successfully ‘broken the link’ between these variables.
The UK's overall rate of new cases stood at 41.6 per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 2 - the highest since 43.9 on March 31.
As things stand, the rise in rates has yet to be mirrored by a steady increase in Covid-19 hospital cases, with the latest data showing patient numbers have climbed slightly to levels last seen at the end of May.
Matt Hancock has said that, despite the fact the Delta variant is up to 40 percent more transmissible, vaccines were "working" and that "very few" people who had been fully vaccinated were ending up in hospital.