The area of England that is the new hotspot for coronavirus cases

Victoria Bell
·5-min read
Isle of Grain, Horrid Hill, Kent
Swale in Kent now has the highest infection rate in England, where the rate is currently 631.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 425.8. (Getty)

The South-east is the region that now has the highest coronavirus rates in England, according to the new figures.

The data, for the week ending November 18 using data published by Public Health England. suggests the numbers are heading in the right direction, although crucially not in all parts of England.

Only two of the nine regions are a majority of areas recording a week-on-week rise; London and south-east England.

Swale in Kent now has the highest infection rate in England, where the rate is currently 631.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 425.8.

An emergency meeting was held in Swale last week to address the area's soaring number of coronavirus cases.

Kent County Council’s (KCC) public health director Andrew Scott-Clark said in a virtual meeting on Friday: “The majority of transmission is with residents and the public, rather than just an outbreak in care or custodial settings.”

He said that households in more deprived areas have seen a rising number of infections, including the Isle of Sheppey and Thanet.

He said: “They are effectively some of our care workers and key workers who have to go out and are more likely to be exposed by the virus.

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“Particularly those communities where there are multi-generational homes or are really challenged in their ability to self-isolate.

“As we know COVID clusters, which means the whole family is likely to come down with the virus.”

Although earlier on Monday, the leader of Swale Borough Council, said of the news that it was “frustrating” to see people breaking social distancing rules and not wearing masks.

Announcing an emergency meeting, Truelove said the recent rise in cases is a “significant cause for concern”.

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“We are particularly concerned about compliance with the restrictions in place. I know most people and businesses are doing what they should, but it is frustrating to still see people not wearing face coverings or keeping their distance when they should.

“This kind of wilful disregard of the rules means we are more likely to have further restrictions imposed on us in December, which is hugely unfair for people and businesses who have been doing the right thing since March.”

Second to Swane, Thanet also appears in England’s top five rates, where the number is currently 515.1, up from 460.8.

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The rate is rising in 34 out of 67 local authority areas in south-east England.

Other areas with big jumps include Medway (up from 256.3 to 384.8) and Gravesham (up from 269.3 to 386.2).

It is still too soon to judge the full impact on case rates of the England-wide lockdown, however.

The nationwide restrictions began on November 5, and the most recent figures are for the week ending November 18 – just 14 days into the lockdown.

Given it can take up to two weeks for COVID-19 symptoms to appear, and further time for somebody to be tested and the result to be processed, more data is needed to be certain about how and where case rates are falling.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: A woman wearing a facemask walks past Christmas decorations outside a wine shop in Mayfair on November 23, 2020 in London, England. UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will announce plans for new coronavirus restrictions to the House of Commons once the current lockdown comes to an end on December 2nd. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Only two of the nine regions are a majority of areas recording a week-on-week rise: London, pictured, and south-east England. (Getty Images)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am very glad to see in the data that the number of cases across the UK is clearly starting to fall. That is good news.”

Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement at 3:30pm which will lay out the Government’s plans for what will happen after lockdown in a press conference this evening.

The Prime Minister is set to detail his “winter COVID plan” with reports that he is to relax restrictions over Christmas and allow for "limited socialising" but to return to tiered coronavirus restrictions post-lockdown.

As well as allowing non-essential retail to reopen in all three tiers, it is expected the Prime Minister will say gyms can welcome back customers while grass roots sports will also be able to resume.

Cinemas will be allowed to reopen in areas under Tier 1 and 2, and midnight mass and Christingle services will be permitted in all three tiers.

There will also be an easing of the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants with an extra hour’s drinking up time.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement on the defence review via video link from 10 Downing Street. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement on the defence review via video link from 10 Downing Street. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)

In his Commons statement, to be delivered virtually as he continues to self-isolate, Johnson will announce major rapid testing programmes for all areas forced into the highest tier of restrictions.

He will also set out plans for a trial of the repeat testing of close contacts of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to prevent them from having to isolate, after the proposals were signed off by the Cabinet on Sunday.

He will hope the measures will be enough to convince dozens of Conservative MPs in the COVID recovery group (CRG), which is threatening to oppose any new restrictions in a Commons vote, to back the scheme.

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Steve Baker, a leading figure in the group, said while they were “reassured” by some of the messages coming out of Government, they needed to know more before deciding which way to vote.

“It is still the case that where there are restrictions we still want to be sure they are going to have an impact on the transmission of COVID and we want to know that whatever is proposed they will save more lives than it will cost,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“I think we will have to hear what the Prime Minister says before we decide how we are voting. There is of course always a danger colleagues will vote against.”

Britain recorded 18,662 new cases on Sunday, and 398 coronavirus deaths within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, according to official data.

Saturday’s data had shown 19,875 new cases and 341 deaths.

Watch: UK death toll rises to 55,230

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