OLDHAM is now the worst-hit area in England for coronavirus – as three new places have been added to the watchlist.
The latest Government data shows that there has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in the Greater Manchester town in the past week.
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Oldham recorded 145 new Covid-19 infections in the seven days to August 9 – which is equivalent to 61 cases per 100,000 people.
It’s higher than previous hot spots Leicester, which went back into lockdown last month, and Blackburn with Darwen – where tough measures were also reintroduced.
The next worst-hit area is Pendle with a weekly rise of 58.6 cases per 100,000 people and Blackburn where there were 43 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days.
It comes as three places were added to the coronavirus ‘watchlist’ on Friday – Preston in the north west, as well as Swindon and Bedford in the south.
The city of Preston was added to the list after the rate of new Covid cases went from 20.3 per 100,000 people in the week ending July 27 to 32.8 in the week ending August 3.
Meanwhile, a Tesco in Swindon was hit by a coronavirus outbreak over the weekend with a number of staff testing positive for the bug.
It came as Public Health England highlighted the Wiltshire town as an ‘area of concern’ after 46.8 cases per 100,000 people were recorded in the latest weekly data.
Bedford was also added to the PHE ‘watchlist’ after Covid cases soared to 22.7 per 100,000 people.
Last week, Greater Manchester and parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were all thrown back into lockdown after new cases spiked.
People living within the hot spot areas are no longer able to meet one another inside homes, private gardens or any other indoor areas.
They must follow these rules even where visiting people in areas without outbreaks.
People are still able to meet others in groups up to 6 individuals, or 2 households, in outdoor public places.
The areas already in lockdown won’t be able to have restrictions eased because infection rates still aren’t coming down.
The Director of Public Health for Lancashire Sakthi Karunanithi blamed the rise in coronavirus cases on people mixing with other households in pubs, as well as in their homes.
A spike in cases in Preston was affecting people from south Asian and white ethnic backgrounds – particularly those living in poor socio-economic conditions, he said.
He said: “I want to pay extra attention to indoor spaces, particularly pubs, where high numbers of people are mixing between households.
“That’s a worrying pattern that we really must avoid.”
Mr Karunanithi said the “two main reasons” for the rise in infections were people meeting others in their houses and households coming together in venues such as pubs.
He added: “These two are key behaviours we’re trying to protect people from. Don’t meet with members of other households in pubs and clubs.”
Rotherham in South Yorkshire has been removed off of the watchlist of places with outbreaks thanks to a fall in cases.
The Government’s watchlist looks at infection rates in areas of concern where officials can work with local authorities to try and keep cases down and avoid local lockdowns.