Covid hotspots mapped: UK case numbers look to have peaked after rapid surge

Dr Hilary Jones explains nine new symptoms of Covid

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In recent weeks the number of Britons contracting Covid had spiked, raising questions around whether the Government was too quick to remove all of its preventative measures. However, these numbers have since fallen towards the end of March, suggesting the new wave of infections may have already peaked.

The most recent rolling seven-day average score for case numbers in the UK was ranked at 789.3 per 100,000 people – correct as of March 30.

Compared with just four days earlier (March 26), that number had fallen by more than 100, where it had a score of 893.2 per 100,000.

Numbers of people who are dying within 28 days of a positive test are also plateauing somewhat.

The latest confirmed figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) demonstrated 135 people died on March 28. In the six days beforehand, deaths had mostly ranged from 140 to 150.

Cases had started to rise again from the beginning of March, which came shortly after the Government had started to remove Covid restrictions in England.

The devolved Governments for each of the other three nations that make up the UK have been scrapping rules at their own discretion.

In England, for example, by the end of February people were no longer required to self-isolate or wear masks in indoor spaces – this was instead replaced with advice.

Scotland on the other hand has yet to do away with face coverings while using public transport and in some indoor settings, such as shops. The rule will remain in place until April 18.

Which areas are reporting the highest case rates?

The only area in the UK which is currently reporting a case rate in excess of 1,600 is Na h-Eileanan Siar on the outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Na h-Eileanan Siar recorded 613 cases in the latest seven-day rolling period (up to March 30) to give a case rate of 2,313.2 per 100,000 people.

Maps show that nearly all regions in Scotland – bar the Orkney Islands – have case rates of between 800 to 1,599 per 100,000.

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Large parts of England – particularly southwestern areas – are also recording case rates of a similar number.

London and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire are reporting slightly fewer infection levels – between 400 and 799 cases per 100,000.

However, all areas of Wales – with the exceptions of Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Torfaen – have witnessed far fewer case rates of between 200 and 399 per 100,000.

A similar pattern can also be observed in the Northern Ireland regions of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, as well as Mid Ulster.

The surge in cases has been driven partly by the contagious Omicron BA.2 sub-variant and people mixing more.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that 4.9 million people in the UK were infected with Covid as of last weekend – a record high during the pandemic.

Omicron BA.2 is now considered to be the dominant strain of Covid in the UK, but experts are now warning of a new mutation which could be even more transmissible.

XE is a mutation of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains – which is referred to as a “recombinant”.

Only a small number of XE cases have been detected in England though, and experts have said they need more information before any firm conclusions can be made.

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