New cases of coronavirus in England have climbed to their highest level for more than three months, according to new analysis.
About one in 10 local areas in England are now recording rates above the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people, suggesting the Delta variant of Covid-19 has spread across the country, particularly in the north-west.
A total of 37,729 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in England in the seven days to 9 June, according to Public Health England (PHE) data. This is the equivalent of 67.0 cases per 100,000 people.
It is the highest level since 2 March, when the rate stood at 69.6, although it is still well below the peak of the second wave of the virus, when the rate rose as high as 680.6.
England’s rate of new Covid-19 cases shows a clear upwards trend, suggesting the third wave of the virus is now under way.
The figures come ahead Boris Johnson’s announcement later on Monday where he is expected to delay the final easing of lockdown restrictions – previously slated for 21 June – to 19 July.
The surge in infections of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which has led to a clear rise in case rates and hospitalisations, have forced the government to postpone the so-called “Freedom Day”.
Analysis by PA news agency shows 35 of the 315 local authority areas in England - 11% - are currently recording rates above the symbolic threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people, the highest number since early March.
The majority of these areas are in north-west England, with the highest rates concentrated in parts of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, although a growing number are located in other parts of the country.
Two London boroughs are seeing rates above 100: Lambeth (114.7, as of June 9) and Wandsworth (108.0).
Bradford (132.6), Leicester (130.1), Leeds (127.6) and Newcastle upon Tyne (107.3) are all above the threshold, as are Bedford (163.9) and Luton (120.2).
In West Yorkshire, Kirklees (123.9) and Calderdale (120.1) are also above 100.
The highest rate in both England and the UK continues to be seen in Blackburn with Darwen, with 619.3 cases per 100,000 people.