The UK's 20 COVID hotspots as cases surge above 50,000 per day
The UK has recorded more than 50,000 cases of COVID-19 for the first time in months as large areas of the country report surges in infections.
On Thursday the government said there had been a further 52,009 lab-confirmed COIVD-19 cases in the UK, which is the highest number of daily reported cases since 17 July.
The government also said a further 115 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, bringing the UK total to 139,146.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 164,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
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Cases have been rising for days with the seven-day average up 18% compared to the previous week. Deaths and hospital admissions have also been rising but not at the same speed.
The map below shows the distribution of COVID cases from the highest rates in dark red, to the lowest rates in pale red.
The top 20 COVID hotspots currently are (figures in cases per 100,000):
Blaenau Gwent 1,178
Bath and North East Somerset 1031
Somerset West and Taunton 942
Neath Port Talbot 922
Vale of Glamorgan 851
West Berkshire 829
North Somerset 815
South Gloucestershire 791
Yesterday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it was not yet the time to implement 'Plan B' in England, which would see the return of social distancing and face masks.
On Thursday the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association (BMA) called for ministers to activate their winter plan amid fears the health service could be overwhelmed.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the refusal to introduce supplementary measures – including Covid passports, mask-wearing in crowded public spaces and a return to working from home – amounted to “willful negligence”.
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Part of the reason there has been so much concern over the rise in cases is the slow rollout of the booster jabs.
Although the UK got off to a flying start when it came to the vaccination programme it has now fallen behind many other nations and is not hitting its targets for boosters.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the government to “get a grip” and speed up its booster programme to control the spread of coronavirus.
During a visit to a pharmacy in central London, Sir Keir told reporters: “The Government said that the vaccine would be the security wall against the virus. And now the Government is letting that wall crumble.
“We’ve seen those that most need it are not able to get the jab they need, only I think 17% of children have got the vaccine and the booster programme has slowed down so much that at this rate, we’re not going to complete it until spring of next year.
“So the Government needs to change, it needs to get a grip, I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day.”
The rise in cases has not been even across the UK, with numbers fairly low in London but high in the North of England, the Midlands and South Wales.
Just over 80% of local authorities in the UK have seen their cases rise in the past week.
Blaenau Gwent in Wales has the highest rate in the UK, with 825 new cases in the seven days to 17 October - the equivalent of 1,044 per 100,000 people.
Cheltenham in Gloucestershire has the second-highest rate, up from 148.2 to 1,141.0, with 1,324 new cases.
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