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    Covid-19 infection rate in the North West drops for the first time since August

    Covid-19 infection rates in the North West, North East and East Midlands FALL for the first time since August, PHE data shows (and only the West Midlands saw a more than 10% rise in mid-October)

    • Public Health England data shows infection rates declined in worst-hit regions
    • Per-person case counts came down for the first time in over five weeks
    • Sir Patrick Vallance today said there is evidence lockdowns are starting to work
    • Rates in London and East are flat, with rises in Yorkshire and West Midlands

    The rates of coronavirus infections in the North West, North East and East Midlands have fallen for the first time since the start of England’s second wave.

    Northern regions of the country have fuelled the autumn’s resurgence of Covid-19 but there are now signs cases are starting to plateau.

    Public Health England data shows that the rate of infection dropped from 367.5 positive tests per 100,000 people to 356.6 in the North West between October 11 and October 18.

    The region, which includes Liverpool and Manchester, has been worse hit than anywhere else in the country since cases started to spiral again, and around seven million of its residents are now living under Tier Two or Tier Three local lockdown rules.

    Infection rates also fell in other badly-affected regions, the PHE data showed, with the cases-per-100,000 dropping in the North East and the East Midlands. It also declined in the South West and South East, but those are not as badly hit as other regions.

    Cases continued to rise, however, in the East of England, London, the West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber. Although only the West Midlands saw an increase of more than 10 per cent, showing the speed of cases climbing is relatively slow.

    PHE data shows the number of cases per 100,000 people in the worst hit regions appeared to turn and start falling in the week up to October 11 after at least five weeks of continuous increases

    The data echoes comments made by Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, in a Downing Street briefing this afternoon.

    Accompanied by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak who unveiled the Government’s latest financial support scheme, Sir Patrick said there were signs that local lockdowns are starting to work.  

    ‘As long as R is above one the epidemic continues to grow and it will continue to grow at a reasonable rate – it’s doubling, perhaps, every 14 to 18 days – unless the R comes below one,’ he said.

    ‘But I do want to say, there are some areas where we’re beginning to see real effects of what’s happening. There are some indications [that] amongst young people the rates are coming down or flattening off a bit due to the huge efforts that people have made to try to adhere to these changes in behaviours that we need to have in order to get this down.

    ‘And in some areas of the country we can begin to see a little bit of flattening, possibly. So the measures are having an effect but we’re going to need to do more if the aim is to get R below one and to shrink this epidemic.’

    PHE data also shows that cases appear to have started declining in under-30s, who were blamed for fuelling the fire of the UK's second wave of coronavirus

    PHE data also shows that cases appear to have started declining in under-30s, who were blamed for fuelling the fire of the UK’s second wave of coronavirus

    Coronavirus outbreaks continue to be mostly contained to urban areas and cities, particularly in the North of England and the Midlands, according to PHE's heat map

    Coronavirus outbreaks continue to be mostly contained to urban areas and cities, particularly in the North of England and the Midlands, according to PHE’s heat map

    The PHE data shows that the North West’s infection rate was the smallest faller of the lot in the most recent week, with a decline in per-person cases of just 0.5 per cent.

    But the change in trend was a glimmer of hope for a region that has been battered by soaring infection rates for more than two months, with the rate now more than seven times as high as it was at the start of September.

    SIGNS OF OUTBREAK SLOWING DOWN, SAYS PATRICK VALLANCE 

    The UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that numbers are ‘still heading in the wrong direction’ but also admitted Britain’s outbreak appears to be slowing down. 

    Official data this afternoon showed that cases are 12 per cent higher than the 18,980 on Thursday last week – the smallest seven-day increase of any day of any day this week – while deaths are up 37 per cent from 138.

    Speaking in a TV briefing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Sir Patrick showed slides that estimated there are somewhere between 22,000 and 90,000 new infections every day in England.

    Sir Patrick Vallance

    Sir Patrick Vallance

    Despite the chief scientific adviser’s now-regular warnings that the outbreak is worrying and will kill many more people, Sir Patrick offered a glimmer of optimism and admitted there are signs of a slowdown.

    The fact that the R rate remains above one – SAGE estimates it to be between 1.3 and 1.5 – means that ‘the epidemic is still growing,’ he said.

    ‘As long as R is above one the epidemic continues to grow and it will continue to grow at a reasonable rate – it’s doubling, perhaps, every 14 to 18 days – unless the R comes below one. 

    ‘But I do want to say, there are some areas where we’re beginning to see real effects of what’s happening. There are some indications [that] amongst young people the rates are coming down or flattening off a bit due to the huge efforts that people have made to try to adhere to these changes in behaviours that we need to have in order to get this down.

     ‘And in some areas of the country we can begin to see a little bit of flattening, possibly. So the measures are having an effect but we’re going to need to do more if the aim is to get R below one and to shrink this epidemic.’

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    In the North East the infection rate fell by 14 per cent from 294 per 100,000 to 254, and in the East Midlands there was a drop of four per cent from 200 to 192.

    The fall in the South West was eight per cent from 78 to 72, and in the South East it was five per cent to 64 to 61.

    Infections rose the most in the West Midlands, where they increased by 13 per cent from 132 per 100,000 to 149, and in Yorkshire and the Humber with a four per cent rise from 269 to 280. 

    The increases in London and the East of England were negligible – from 99.1 per 100,000 to 99.5 and from 67 to 67.6, respectively. 

    The change comes as more granular data from local areas shows that infection rates in the worst-hit student ares dropped by half in the week up to October 11.

    Covid-19 cases among teenagers and people in their 20s were blamed for fuelling the fire of England’s second wave of the disease with numbers of positive tests spiralling after universities and schools returned in September.

    Official statistics show that infection rates have been up to seven times higher in boroughs with large student populations than in the cities that contain them, but data now reveals that cases have plummeted in the five worst-hit areas even though none of them are yet in the toughest Tier Three lockdown rules.

    In the University Park area of Nottingham, which had the most positive cases of anywhere in England in the week to October 4, the infection rate dropped by a third (32 per cent) the following week, up to October 11. However a staggering four per cent of the area’s 11,000 residents still tested positive in that week. 

    While the area had 673 new cases in the week to October 4, this fell to 458 the following week. The equivalent rate per 100,000 people dropped from 6,108 to 4,156. Although there are only 11,000 people in the area the per-100,000 cases is a standardised measure used across the country. The highest for a single city, town or county is 675 per 100,000 in Nottingham as a whole. 

    In Fallowfield in Manchester, the infection rate fell by a huge 71 per cent in the same time, from a rate of four per cent of the population testing positive to one per cent. Cases fell from 542 to 158 in the same time, a rate drop from 4,536 to 1,322 per 100,000 people. The area’s population is around 12,000.

    In Sheffield’s Endcliffe and Ranmoor cases fell from 435 to 230 (rate 4,311 to 2,279); in Hyde Park Corner & Woodhouse Cliff in Leeds new positives tests dropped from 377 to 231 in a week (rate 2,714 to 1,663) and in Shieldfield & Heaton Park in Newcastle there were 133 cases in the week to October 11, down from 342 (1,672 per 100,000 to 650).

    Other student-heavy areas in the worst-affected parts of the country saw significant drops, too, including Rusholme East and Ladybarn in Manchester, with declines of 61 and 64 per cent respectively; Pennsylvania & University in Exeter (down 41 per cent); University & Little Woodhouse in Leeds (55 per cent) and Broomhall in Sheffield (22 per cent). 

    Public Health England data shows that coronavirus infection rates in the five worst-affected areas of England in the week to October 4 have since plummeted by an average 50 per cent, with positive tests declining despite none of the areas being in full local lockdown measures

    Public Health England data shows that coronavirus infection rates in the five worst-affected areas of England in the week to October 4 have since plummeted by an average 50 per cent, with positive tests declining despite none of the areas being in full local lockdown measures

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