New UK COVID hotspot emerges as daily cases continue to fall

·2-min read

Watch: 21,952 more COVID cases confirmed in the UK

Northern Ireland is now the UK's biggest COVID hotspot, with a higher case rate than Scotland, Wales or any region in England. 

It comes as cases in the UK as a whole continue to fall, with 21,952 new cases reported on Monday, down by 27% on the previous week.

Northern Ireland now has a considerably higher case rate than the rest of the UK, with a rolling seven-day average of 486.7 cases per 100,000. 

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This compares with Wales' rate of 152.9, Scotland's rate of 156.4 and England's rate of 296.6. 

Five more deaths of patients who had tested positive for COVID within the previous 28 days were reported in Northern Ireland on Monday.

File photo dated 01/04/21 of a social distancing sign in the Stormont Estate in Belfast. Stormont ministers will meet later to consider further Covid-19 relaxations for Northern Ireland and discuss ways to tackle the region's spiralling health waiting lists. Issue date: Monday July 26, 2021.
A social-distancing sign in the Stormont Estate in Belfast. (PA)

The NI Department of Health said there had also been 872 new confirmed cases of the virus in the last 24-hour reporting period.

Meanwhile, there were 202 COVID-positive patients in hospital, of whom 34 were in intensive care.

Health minister Robin Swann said on Saturday that the ongoing fatalities provided a "stark reminder" of the impact of the pandemic.

"It will only be through continued vigilance and a collective effort that we can protect ourselves and those we care for," he said.

Watch: NHS app being updated to ping fewer people to isolate

In England, the North East currently has the highest COVID case rate, with a seven-day rolling average of 398.2 cases per 100,000 people. 

Meanwhile, the South East has the lowest rate at 242.5, while London's rate is slightly higher at 283.6.

It comes as the UK Department for Health and Social Care announced that the NHS COVID app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate

The “logic” behind the app’s system will be tweaked, meaning a person will need to have been near a positive but asymptomatic individual two days prior, instead of five.

People queue for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the SSE Arena which opened this morning and will operate as a mega regional vaccination centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
People queue for the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine at the SSE Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Reuters)

The changes do not mean the sensitivity has been altered, nor the risk threshold, the DHSC said.

“We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus,” said health secretary Sajid Javid.

“This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.

“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.” 

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