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Coronavirus infection rates falling in worst hit areas including Oldham and Pendle – but cases nearly double in Stoke

CORONAVIRUS infection rates are falling in eight of England’s top ten worst impacted areas – including Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn.

Government data shows the coronavirus figures per 100,000 people are tumbling in many parts of the country – but there have been worrying rises in places like Stoke-on-Trent.

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Data charting the seven day rise and fall of cases for all of England’s 314 local authorities shows hope for the country’s worst hit areas.

Oldham still has the highest figures with 60.7 cases per 100,000, but the August 21 figure tumbled from 95.3 on August 14.

This was a real change as 144 new cases were confirmed last week, compared to 226 the week previous.

Pendle and Blackburn with Darwen also saw figures decline, recording infection rates of 55.4 and 51.4 which had dropped from 87.9 and 88.2.

Leicester, Manchester, Bradford, Rochdale and Northampton all also saw figures decline over the same period to round out the top ten.

However, Swindon and Bury – the seventh and tenth worst impacted areas – both saw small increases with jumps from 39.6 to 40.1 and 31.9 to 33.0.

Stoke saw coronavirus new cases almost double, jumping from 18.3 to 28.9 – a real change from 47 new cases to 74.

The increase comes days after the council issued a lockdown warning for the city as they pleaded with residents to obey social distancing rules.

Redditch saw the largest rise, going from 4.7 to 29.3, a jump from four cases to 25, while Oadby and Wigston also climbed from 26.3 to 31.6.

Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, urged people to stick to the rules after 12 cases were found in one day last week.

She said: “You can’t look at the national news without another city-wide lock-down coming into force or being discussed.

“We don’t want to be the next one – the next seven days is a critical time for the city so let’s all play our part, protect our loved ones and avoid lockdown.”

Oldham residents have been warned not meet anyone outside of their household – but officials assured it would avoid a full lockdown.

Pubs, restaurants and offices can remain open, but extra restrictions on social interaction are about to come into force.

People can still go to work and use childcare as normal, but won’t be permitted extra social meet-ups from midnight on Saturday.

 

 

Jim McMahon, MP for Oldham, said: “The sooner we bring the virus rates down, the sooner we can meet extended family and friends again.

“I know we have all made sacrifices, and I know many of you have really been affected by the virus and the lockdown restrictions. Stay safe and look out for each other.”

He said “a widespread economic lockdown would have been wrong” and would have needlessly closed businesses down when they weren’t a factor in spreading the virus.

Whitehall had been pushing for tougher measures but were hit by a backlash from regional leaders keen to avoid what happened to Leicester.

The latest figures estimate that 20,299 people have symptomatic coronavirus in the UK.

Europe is seeing a rise in cases as the UK government reintroduced quarantine measures for countries such as Spain and France.

Meanwhile, Professor John Clancy, of Birmingham City University, has warned current fears of cities in Britain returning to lockdown are based on “dodgy data”.

He argued the figures show some 91 per cent of neighborhoods in England have recorded zero coronavirus cases in a month.

The expert said: “So-called ‘spikes’ are occurring here, there, and everywhere up and down the country because new testing regimes are causing them either with false positives, picking up residual infections or (usually more likely) suddenly increased testing in specific areas.

“‘Just in case’ lockdowns are simply not an acceptable response to dodgy data. And lockdowns cause deaths.”

Professor Clancy, who is also the former leader of Birmingham City Council, warned current testing numbers are “low and unreliable” and local officials risk “over-reacting” to apparent spikes.

He added officials should only be alarmed if there is a spike in deaths, saying they are “sadly” the “most reliable” figure during the pandemic.

Fears have surfaced of second nationwide coronavirus lockdown as officials warned the end of the year will be “bumpy” for Britain.

The Sage advisory group said Britain’s reproduction number was between 0.9 and 1.1, with senior sources warning “more nationwide measures” may be needed. 

A senior government source told The Telegraph: “We’re looking at a pretty bumpy autumn and winter and that’s going to go in the direction of increased cases and increased outbreaks.”

Another source added: “If it doesn’t get contained it may be that some things that have been open, you need to think about whether measures need to be taken to reverse things.”

Government scientists fear Britain could follow countries like Spain, Europe’s fastest rising caseload, with 142 cases per 100,000 people. 

The number of daily cases in the holiday hotspot have risen from 150 when lockdown eased on June 21 to more than 3,000.

National figures showed four people died from coronavirus today in England, as the UK confirmed 853 new cases.

Emergency plans have been drawn up to protect the UK from the perfect storm of a winter second wave of Covid-19 coinciding with a No Deal Brexit.

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