Only one area in the UK where COVID cases are definitely decreasing, study finds

Areas in dark purple are definitely seeing their coronavirus cases numbers increase. (Imperial College London)
Areas in dark purple are definitely seeing their coronavirus cases numbers increase. (Imperial College London)

Swindon is the only place in the UK that is definitely seeing a decrease in coronavirus numbers with most places seeing their infections rising, a study has found.

An interactive map that uses mathematical modeling to predict how likely a local authority is suffering from an increase in coroanvirus infections shows almost every area of the UK is seeing their case numbers rise.

The map predicts only Swindon as ‘definitely’ seeing a decrease in cases.

The only other areas that are ‘likely’ seeing a decrease are Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Carlisle and Ashford.

The map says the direction in 14 local authorities is unclear with the rest of the UK either likely or definitely seeing an increase.

The map is made by a team at Imperial College London and is updated weekly.

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Areas in dark purple mean the team please coronavirus cases are increasing in the local authority; areas in light purple means an increase is likely; areas in white means it's too hard to tell; areas in light green means cases are likely decreasing and; the single area in dark Green, Swindon, means cases are definitely decreasing. (Imperial College London)
Areas in dark purple mean the team please coronavirus cases are increasing in the local authority; areas in light purple means an increase is likely; areas in white means it's too hard to tell; areas in light green means cases are likely decreasing and; the single area in dark Green, Swindon, means cases are definitely decreasing. (Imperial College London)

They use their algorithm to calculate the probability an area will become a hotspot for coronavirus in the coming weeks.

Their predictions have changed significantly since the website was launched two weeks ago, almost entirely for the worse with sharp increases in coronavirus cases now predicted across the country.

The team behind the website define a hotspot as a local authority where there are more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population per week.

The website predicts almost all the areas currently under local lockdown will remain a coronavirus hotspot until at least October 3.

Other areas that are not currently seeing increased measures, like Sheffield and Liverpool, also have a 100% staying as a coronavirus hotspot until the start of October.

(You can access the map here.)

Map showing the current hotspots in the UK. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the current hotspots in the UK. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the percentage chance areas the UK that will become coronavirus hotspots in the week September 27 to October 3. The darker the shade of red the likelier it is they will be a hotspot. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the percentage chance areas the UK that will become coronavirus hotspots in the week September 27 to October 3. The darker the shade of red the likelier it is they will be a hotspot. (Imperial College London)

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Earlier the Health Secretary put a further two million people in local lockdown in North East of England following a “concerning” rise in coronavirus cases there.

Matt Hancock told MPs in the Commons new measures were needed to tackle rising infection rates in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.

Residents are being advised not to meet people from other households, with all leisure and entertainment venues told to close at 10pm.

The changes run alongside the England-wide six person limit on social gatherings.

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In South Wales, a local lockdown will come into force from 6pm on Thursday, meaning people must not enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf area without a reasonable excuse.

Under new rules, licensed pubs, bars and restaurants in the area will have to close at 11pm – and meetings with other people indoors will not be allowed, including for extended households.

Large areas of the North West including Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and its surrounding areas, and Leicester are currently under enhanced lockdown measures - representing a significant portion of the UK’s population.

There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases across the country recently, prompting more interventions from the government.

Local lockdown restrictions in Great Britain. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.
Local lockdown restrictions in Great Britain. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.

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A huge part of the government’s strategy for combatting the virus centres around quick testing, which has been a problem for the past few days.

A surge in demand for tests has created a back log in the countries lab network, meaning people have been unable to find out if they have coronavirus.

Speaking on Thursday, NHS Test and Trace chief Dido Harding acknowledged a majority of people who want a coronavirus test are unable to do so.

She told MPs: “It’s clearly obvious there is significantly more demand than there is capacity today.”

The problems with testing has led to warnings that the government may lose control of the pandemic and be forced to put the whole nation back into lockdown.

Daniel Lawson, senior lecturer in statistical science at the University of Bristol, said the last time we had reliable coronavirus figures in the UK was on 9 September because that was the last time the system was functioning properly.

Testing has become a major problem for the government. (AP)
Testing has become a major problem for the government. (AP)

He said: “The infection rate now will be substantially higher, and there are no data on how many people want a test but cannot get one, or what delays this will induce.”

Lawson added: “With tests being unavailable, some people will elect to not get tested, either to free tests for others or due to limited enthusiasm for fighting to get a test.

“Lack of trust is likely to reduce testing rates into the future.

“Statistically we lose power to distinguish what the true infection rate is in the population and management is severely compromised.

“Test and trace is going to be strongly impacted because it relies on timely tests being performed; even a small delay decreases its efficacy.”

The problems have become a source of frustration with the public, with numerous reports of people being told to travel hundreds of miles to get a test.

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This has led to net approval of government handling of COVID-19 falling to -33, the lowest level ever.

YouGov on Thursday said that the number of people who say the government is doing well at handling the coronavirus pandemic has fallen to a record low.

The new figures show attitudes have fallen, with only 30% of people believing the government is doing well at handling the pandemic.

The net score view on how well the government is doing is -33, compared to -18 last week.

Imperial College London’s website treats each local authority independently of its neighbours in the modelling so the epidemic in one local authority does not affect or is not affected by the situation in any adjacent local authority.

The team also noted that an increase in cases in a local authority can be due to an increase in testing, which the model does not currently account for.

The model also assumes all individuals within each local authority are equally likely to be infected, so demographic factors, such as age, are not considered.

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