Public Health England figures published today reveal 144 out of 149 areas (97 per cent) recorded a drop in weekly positive tests in the seven days up to January 24, confirming that cases are now falling in all regions of England.
Infection rates plunged by more than a third in 40 local authorities and fell sharply by more than a quarter in another 48 areas. Cases are down in every age group, in another positive sign in Britain’s Covid fight.
The PHE report shows that, on the whole, cases are plummeting fastest in the South East and London, which became the UK’s Covid epicentres after an outbreak of the highly infectious Kent strain in autumn.
Infections in these regions fell sooner and faster during the national shutdown because they were put under tough Tier 4 curbs in December while the rest of the country enjoyed more freedoms, which gave them a head-start, and their infection rates are falling from higher peaks.
But the figures now show that areas in the North of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands have started to catch up, with places such as York (-38 per cent), Liverpool (-35 per cent) and Manchester (-26 per cent) seeing significant weekly drops.
Scientists had been warning for weeks that the national shutdown was having an effect on some but not all parts of England. But the latest promising data suggests the draconian measures are having their desired impact everywhere now.
All but five local authorities in England saw coronavirus infections fall last week, official data shows in the clearest sign yet that cases are trending downwards across the country during lockdown
The biggest drop in infection rates last week was recorded in Thurrock, Essex, where the weekly case rate was slashed from 757 per 100,000 people to 406, a fall of more than 46 per cent. Eight London boroughs saw similar week-on-week falls, with Tower Hamlets and Lambeth each recording a 42 per cent decrease. Case rates there are now 393 per 100,000 and 397.5, respectively.
Havering and Islington both saw rates tumble by 41 per cent, in Newham it fell by 40 per cent and in Enfield, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea, there was a 39 per cent decrease. Rounding out the top 10 was the Isle of Wight, where cases went from 612.96 per 100,000 to 366.79, the equivalent of a 40 per cent fall.
Only five local authorities — mostly in Yorkshire — saw positive Covid tests continue to rise in the past week, but the increases were relatively small. Wakefield, in West Yorkshire, suffered the biggest increase at 9 per cent, with the rate climbing from 229 per 100,000 to 250. In Bradford, also in West Yorkshire, the rate went from 274 to 292.34, a rise of 6 per cent.