JUST one region in the south is in England's 50 worst Covid hotspots after the country went into a second lockdown.
Bristol – previously a tier one region – has the 33rd highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people in the week to November 5.
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All of England is in a national shutdown until December 2.
It comes as:
- A 'James Bond' coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out in just three weeks
- Boris Johnson has announced that thousands of rapid Covid tests are now being rolled out across the UK in a bid to get students home for Christmas
- UK unemployment has hit 4.8 per cent, with 782,000 losing their jobs since March
- Another 194 people were recorded to have lost their lives to the virus yesterday
- Kids are 'back in nappies and forgetting how to use forks' after the schools closed during the first lockdown
No region of London – where mayor Sadiq Khan repeatedly called for more restrictions – has made it into the list.
While the capital initially had the largest spike in Covid-19 cases in early April, northern England has had the highest sustained rates of coronavirus infection since that time.
Cases have dropped in 21 of the city's boroughs, leading to pressure to take the entire area out of lockdown early.
Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said: “London is the powerhouse of the UK economy.
"We need to get it open again as soon as possible.
"With cases coming down in many boroughs, there is no justification for extending lockdown a minute beyond its scheduled end date on December 2.”
The former international development secretary and transport secretary told the Evening Standard: “Ministers must also seriously consider whether London can be released from lockdown early if cases continue to fall.”
Havering is London's hardest-hit area, with a case rate of 264.7 cases per 100,000.
The figure means that nationally, it comes in 95th place for infections.
Oldham remains the worst-affected region in the country, with 773.9 cases per 100,000 people – with new infections 11 per cent up on the previous week.
However, across Greater Manchester – which was forced into a tier three lockdown shortly before England's national shutdown began – cases have dropped five per cent week on week.
The region had 14,816 positive results in the week ending November 5 – 767 fewer than the week before.
At the weekend, all hospitals in the area suspended non-urgent appointments and surgeries due to rising rates of coronavirus.
Blackburn with Darwen, the worst-affected area in the UK for months, remains in second place with 719.5 cases per 100,000, while Hull, with 671.3 per 100,000, is in third place.
In the wider north-west, rates have dropped in 28 of the 39 local authorities, including all six areas in the Liverpool City Region.
Bristol, by comparison, has a case rate of 422.3.
The city has a large student population. Bristol University has seen 434 students test positive between October 23 and November 6.
The figures are likely to raise questions over why the whole of the country is now in lockdown until December 2.
Many northern regions were previously in tiers two and three – with restrictions ranging from the closure of pubs, restaurants and bars, to bans on meeting loved ones living in a different household indoors.
Northern leaders, including Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, hit out at the three-step shutdown plan – and claimed it was "London-centric".
However, the newest figures show northern regions are far more likely to be hotbeds for the virus.
According to Public Health England's coronavirus 'watch-list', people living in some of the most badly-affected areas are more likely to have overcrowded homes – raising the likelihood that more people will be infected.
It comes amid reports that Boris Johnson is furious he was "bounced" into imposing a second set of restrictions.
The PM signed off a new lockdown in England on October 31 after he was warned by Government scientists that Covid-related deaths could rise to 4,000 a day in a worst case scenario.
But the figure that has since been revised to 1,000 fatalities per day by the start of December.
Former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption derided the forecast as "absolute Noddy Land figures."
And Mr Johnson is said to be angry that the stats are "crumbling", according to a Government minister.
The PM had previously repeatedly vowed to stick with local lockdowns – which experts say were beginning to work.
"I think he is concerned that he may have been bounced into it," the source said.
Who will get the first doses of new Covid vaccine?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.
Its interim guidance, which assumes the jab is safe and effective in all groups, says the order of priority should be:
- Older adults in a care home and care home workers
- All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
- Anyone 75 and over
- People aged 70 and over
- All those aged 65 and over
- High-risk adults under 65
- Moderate-risk adults under 65
- All those aged 60 and over
- All those 55 and over
- All those aged 50 and over
- The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined.
The JCVI said the prioritisation could change if the first jab were not deemed suitable for, or effective in, older adults.
"There is also concern that some of the information used to inform the decision now seems to be crumbling.
"In fact the figures seem to be suggesting things were getting better before the lockdown began – we are being shut down for a month when we did not need to be."
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says the UK will return to the three-tier system after December 2.
"We want to get through to December 2, and at that point we will transition back to localised approach, which was always our preference," he said.
However, no region of England yet has a case rate below 20 per 100,000 cases – the Government measure used to consider travel quarantines for other countries.
Hastings in East Sussex has the lowest rate in the country – but it remains at 33.5.
Data from Public Health England revealed that Covid-19 infections fell across England in the week before the shutdown.
Cases reportedly dropped in 82 of the 149 local authorities nationwide.
But new stats released today show the number of people dying from the virus in England and Wales has risen above 1,000 for the first time since June.
The Office for National Statistics said the virus was mentioned on 1,379 death certificates in the last week of October, a 41 per cent surge on the previous week.
This is the first time the grim milestone has been crossed since June 12, and the highest number since the week ending June 5, when 1,588 Covid-19 deaths were registered.
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