Eight coronavirus hotspots in England revealed as PM unveils winter plan

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a British Gas training academy on September 13, 2021 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Rui Vieira - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is set to announce England's coronavirus 'winter plan'. (Rui Vieira/pool)

Boris Johnson is set to unveil his coronavirus “winter plan” as one leading expert said the country is “not out of the woods”.

On Tuesday, the government will set out its blueprint for “living with the virus” during the winter months, first with a House of Commons statement by health secretary Sajid Javid and then with Johnson leading a Downing Street press conference.

The winter plan will apply to England, where the latest data show there are eight “hotspot” areas of more than 500 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people. Those areas are:

  1. Corby: 752.9 cases per 100,000 people

  2. Blackpool: 618.6

  3. North West Leicestershire: 591.6

  4. Kingston upon Hull, City of: 586.6

  5. Allerdale: 561.2

  6. Hinckley and Bosworth : 551.6

  7. Blaby: 540.5

  8. High Peak: 524.7

*figures accurate as of 8 September, the latest date for which government data are available

The darker shades of red indicate the areas where coronavirus case rates are highest.
The darker shades of red indicate the areas where coronavirus case rates are highest. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)

Johnson is set to put his trust in a “massive” booster vaccination campaign as he seeks to avoid further lockdowns amid fears of a tough winter for the NHS.

A third jab will be on offer for all over-50s as part of the package, starting with the over-70s and the most vulnerable.

The Pfizer/BioNTech jab will be administered at least six months after the second dose amid concerns the protection it gives to older people fades over time.

Ministers believe it will help ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases as it moves into autumn and winter.

But there are concerns about an increase in Covid cases hitting at the same time as a flu outbreak.

Vaccine uptake in England. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)
Vaccine uptake in England. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish/UK government data)

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi pointed out “a bad year” could see 25,000 flu deaths.

However, he said further lockdowns will be an “absolutely last resort” under the winter plan.

Prof Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), which advises the government, said current data suggest “we’re not out of the woods” and the Covid figures “do not bode well for winter”.

He told Sky News: “We can see from the figures that we’re still nearing a thousand deaths a week [across the UK] and thousands of hospitalised patients that are challenging capacity in our hospitals.”

The winter plan will see vaccines as the first line of defence, supported by testing, public health advice and a new variant surveillance system.

It is thought ministers will retain the options of a return to wearing face masks in public places and restoring work-from-home advice if cases take off again.

However, other measures – such as requiring vaccine passports for people attending nightclubs or other crowded venues – have already been shelved.

Alongside the winter plan, vaccines will be offered to 12 to 15-year-olds from next week after the UK’s chief medical officers backed the move on Monday.