8 coronavirus hotspots in England revealed as PM unveils COVID winter plan

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a British Gas training academy on September 13, 2021 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Rui Vieira - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's government has unveiled England's coronavirus 'winter plan'. (Rui Vieira/pool)

Boris Johnson's government has unveiled its coronavirus “winter plan”, even as one leading expert warned that “we're not out of the woods”.

On Tuesday, health secretary Sajid Javid outlined "Plan A", which includes a vaccine booster campaign and advice for people to meet outdoors, wear face coverings and wash their hands.

Contingency plans such as mandatory face masks and vaccine passports could be activated if there is “unsustainable” pressure on the NHS, Javid said.

The plan will apply to England, where the latest data shows there are eight “hotspot” areas of more than 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. Those areas are:

  1. Corby: 752.9 cases per 100,000 people

  2. Blackpool: 618.6

  3. North West Leicestershire: 591.6

  4. Kingston upon Hull, City of: 586.6

  5. Allerdale: 561.2

  6. Hinckley and Bosworth : 551.6

  7. Blaby: 540.5

  8. High Peak: 524.7

*figures accurate as of 8 September, the latest date for which government data is available

The darker shades of red indicate the areas where coronavirus case rates are highest.
The darker shades of red indicate the areas where coronavirus case rates are highest. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)

Johnson is putting his trust in a “massive” booster vaccination campaign as he seeks to avoid further lockdowns amid fears of a tough winter for the NHS.

A third jab will be on offer for all over-50s as part of the package, starting with the over-70s and the most vulnerable.

Vaccine uptake in England. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)
Vaccine uptake in England. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab will be administered at least six months after the second dose amid concerns the protection it gives to older people fades over time.

Ministers believe it will help ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases as it moves into autumn and winter.

There are concerns about an increase in COVID cases hitting at the same time as a flu outbreak.

Watch: Tuesday's politics briefing

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi pointed out “a bad year” could see 25,000 flu deaths.

However, he said further lockdowns will be an “absolutely last resort” under the winter plan.

Prof Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), which advises the government, said current data suggest “we’re not out of the woods” and the COVID figures “do not bode well for winter”.

He told Sky News: “We can see from the figures that we’re still nearing a thousand deaths a week [across the UK] and thousands of hospitalised patients that are challenging capacity in our hospitals.”

The winter plan sees vaccines as the first line of defence, supported by testing, public health advice and a new variant surveillance system.

Read more:

Winter COVID plan: How bad is the pandemic compared to this time last year?

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Additional reporting by PA.

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