England’s 20 areas ‘most at risk of new coronavirus outbreaks’ revealed

Harriet Brewis
A deserted Leicester city centre, as the city remains in local lockdown: PA

Twenty councils in England have been deemed most at risk of fresh coronavirus outbreaks, according to a Government document leaked to the Guardian and the Observer.

Sheffield, Kirklees and Bradford are among the areas identified as facing a potential Covid-19 resurgence, and could therefore face local lockdowns, the classified information suggests.

Public Health England (PHE), briefed local government health officials last week that ministers were considering publishing a ranking of the 10 councils most affected by new outbreaks, the Guardian reported.

This ranking is set to be based on a document circulated to local health chiefs on Thursday, which was marked “official sensitive”, the news site said.

The table, reportedly compiled by PHE, ranks the 20 councils with the highest proportion of positive cases.

Leicester remains most at risk, followed by Kirklees in West Yorkshire, then Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, and Oadby and Wigston.

The full list is as follows :

  1. Leicester
  2. Kirklees
  3. Bradford
  4. Blackburn with Darwen
  5. Oadby and Wigston
  6. Rochdale
  7. Ashford
  8. Folkestone and Hythe
  9. Blaby
  10. Oldham
  11. Rotherham
  12. Barnsley
  13. Bedford
  14. Northampton
  15. Sheffield
  16. Bolton
  17. Hinckley and Bosworth
  18. Kettering
  19. Knowsley
  20. Carlisle

Titled “local authority areas of interest”, the data set is reportedly based on testing between 21 June and 4 July.

Identifying six areas of “concern”, it allegedly labels more serious cases as needing “enhanced support”, with three councils in this category.

Leicester, however, is given the more urgent marker of “requiring intervention.”

The document allegedly explains that the highlighted areas are “currently under investigation by the local public health protection teams”.

It says the areas listed are “associated with workplace outbreaks which have contributed to the increase in infection rates”.

Last month,164 workers at a meat factory in Kirklees tested positive for the disease, and at the beginning of July, a bed factory in Batley was closed after eight workers were found to have contracted the virus.

On June 30, Leicester became the first city in England to have lockdown restrictions reimposed after it saw a spike in virus cases.

The list of 20 at-risk councils uses six metrics including number of cases per 100,000 of population per week and per day, and percentage of individuals testing positive as a proportion of all tests, according to the Guardian.

The communities most affected have several factors in common: poverty, poor health and a high proportion of non-white residents, the paper points out.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it would use a range of data to decide how to tackle any new outbreaks.

A DHSC spokesperson told the paper: “We have been transparent about our response to coronavirus and are always looking to improve the data we publish, including the way we update testing statistics.

“The list of the 10 local authorities with the highest weekly incidence of coronavirus is already publicly available in PHE’s weekly surveillance report.

“All councils in England now have the ability to access testing data, right down to an individual and postcode level. If councils feel they require more assistance with data, of course, PHE is able to help them.”

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