Maps show how COVID could spread across UK in coming weeks

·3-min read
COVID hotspots across the  UK are set to increase, according to recent research.
COVID hotspots across the UK are likely to increase, according to recent research. (Imperial College London)

These two maps show how the UK is expected to face a surge in COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks.

With UK cases already rising due to the Delta variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, a team at Imperial College London has predicted the trend will continue as England prepares to lift its remaining lockdown restrictions.

The maps estimate the probability that an area will be a hotspot at a certain date, with a hotspot defined as a local authority with more than 100 cases per 100,000.

The two maps demonstrate the extent to which the virus will likely spread in more areas between 20 June and 2 July.

Watch: Boris Johnson won't rule out further lockdowns in the winter

Read: Will there be a fourth COVID lockdown?

The deeper the shade of red on the maps – which are modelled on testing data and the assumption no further government interventions will be imposed – the more likely an area is to be a COVID hotspot of more than 100 infections per 100,000 people.

The lighter the shade of grey, the less likely it is to be a hotspot.

In the map showing the coronavirus situation on 20 June (below), hotspots were isolated to areas like the North West, Scotland and Cornwall, with most areas in the lighter shade of grey.

COVID hotspots on 20 June, according to Imperial College London research. (Imperial College London)
COVID hotspots on 20 June, according to Imperial College London research. (Imperial College London)

But by 2 July, far more areas are shown in the deepest shade of red, indicating the likelihood they will become COVID hotspots in the next few weeks.

It comes as the Delta variant continues to drive the surge in case numbers.

Blackburn with Darwen currently has the highest seven-day rolling average rate of COVID cases, according to data from PA.

Potential COVID hotspots on 2 July, according to Imperial College London research. (Imperial College London)
Potential COVID hotspots on 2 July, according to Imperial College London research. (Imperial College London)

The area has seen the case rate jump to 600.6 per 100,000 people in the week ending 17 June – up from 531.7 the week before.

Hyndburn currently comes in second with a rate of 480.0, followed by Ribble Valley (418.8), Burnley (404.9) and Manchester (360.7).

According to the Office for National Statistics, regions where cases have been increasing include the North West, the West Midlands and the South East.

It comes as Boris Johnson "re-emphasised the government's determination to ensure the [unlocking] roadmap is irreversible" during a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday, according to Downing Street.

Watch: Third wave coming as Delta variant surges

Last week, when Johnson announced that the planned lifting of all legal restrictions on social contact would have to be delayed until 19 July, he said that date could be brought forward until 5 July.

Johnson and some of his senior ministers have in recent days signalled that it is "looking good” for the planned lifting of coronavirus restrictions on 19 July – despite rising cases and hospital admissions.

The prime minister said the date looked set to be the “terminus point” for England’s lockdown.

However, Johnson also did not rule out putting the country back under lockdown later this year, saying the country was in for a “rough winter”.

While cases continue to rise across the country, the government is still analysing whether this is translating into increased hospitalisations and deaths in light of the vaccination programme.

According to the latest government data, COVID cases have increased 34.8% week on week as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, hospitalisations are also up by 34.9% and deaths by 44.4%, suggesting the rise in cases is beginning to have an effect on the number of people getting seriously ill.

The estimates and projections shown on the Imperial College London maps have probability measures associated with them, meaning the figures should be treated cautiously.

The projections also assume that lockdowns and behaviour patterns don’t change.

Watch: Coronavirus in numbers: UK death toll reaches 128,008

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting