UK Covid cases: Three areas of concern revealed as Omicron surges

PMQs: May says 'omicron is less serious than previous variants'

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Coronavirus cases have soared in the UK largely driven by the new highly transmissible Omicron variant. Cases have climbed to record highs across the UK and worryingly both hospitalisations and the death rates have increased since Christmas.

On January 7, 178,250 people tested positive for Covid and 229 people died within 28 days of a positive test.

In the seven days to January 7, those testing positive for the virus jumped by an alarming 19.8 percent.

Deaths within 28 days of positive test rose by a staggering 46 percent, and patients admitted to hospital with Covid in the seven days to January 3 climbed by 57.7 percent.

These statistics make for grim reading, but the picture isn’t the same across the UK as there are some significant regional differences.

Where are the worst hotspots for the virus?

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M), has identified the North West and North East of England alongside the Midlands as three regions of particular concern.

He told Times Radio that while cases were slowing down in London, other regions have seen a worrying rise.

He said: “Most other parts of the country are about two to three weeks behind where London is in their epidemic profile.

“Particularly concerning is the North East and the North West – if you look at hospital admissions in those two regions they are going up.”

But he added: “On the slightly more positive side, so it doesn’t sound all doom and gloom, what we are seeing from hospital admissions is that stays in hospital do appear to be on average shorter, which is good news, symptoms appear to be a little bit milder, so this is what we are seeing consistently with the Omicron variant.”

The latest Government figures show that three of the UK areas with the largest week-on-week rise are Middlesbrough, Copeland and Redcar & Cleveland.

Middlesbrough has seen the highest rise in case rates in the seven days to January 2.

Case rates here increased by 228.9 percent, which is a rise from 748.8 positive cases per 100,000 to 2,651.4.

Copeland saw a rise over the same period of 121.8 percent, with case rates increasing from 1,731.3 to 3,525.8 per 100,000.

In Redcar and Cleveland case rates jumped by 228.9 percent from 846.8 to 2,564.3 per 100,000.

The vast majority of the UK has seen case rates rise to over 1,600 per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 2 as the Omicron wave nears its peak.

Most regions of Northern Ireland and Wales have case rates above 1,600 per 100,000.

The vast majority of Scotland also has case rates above this figure.

Only five Scottish regions have case rates below 1,599 per 100,000, including Argyll and Bute, Na h-Eileanan Siar, Moray, Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands.

Case rates in England remain high but the picture is a little less bleak with slightly lower case rates between 800 to 1,599 per 100,000 in the following areas:

  • East Anglia (except for Essex)
  • The Cotswolds
  • North Yorkshire
  • Leeds
  • Most of the south (except for parts of London, Surrey and Swindon)
  • Most of the Midlands, the North East and the North West have case rates of above 1,600 per 100,000

Although the Shetland Islands may have seen their case rates rise by 68.1 percent recently, it continues to be the area of the UK with the lowest overall case rates with just 669 per 100,000.

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