There are two areas of England where coronavirus cases have reached more than 1,000 per 100,000 people, weekly figures have revealed.
Data from the PA news agency, based on Public Health England data published on Sunday on the government’s coronavirus dashboard for the seven days to 16 December, showed nine out of 10 areas have seen a weekly increase in case rates.
On Saturday, Boris Johnson announced a Tier 4 lockdown across London and the South East.
There was widespread anger as the prime minister was accused of causing nationwide “heartbreak” with his U-turn over Christmas restrictions.
The Christmas bubble policy, which would have allowed up to three families to spend time together between 23 and 27 December, has been dramatically scaled back, with those in Tiers 1 to 3 only allowed to socialise on Christmas Day.
The lockdown came after the discovery in London and the South East of a new strain of coronavirus associated with a quicker spread than previous versions, which has already reached other parts of the UK.
On Sunday, health secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain was “out of control”.
Watch: New COVID variant is ‘out of control’
As a result of the new variant of COVID-19, several European countries banned flights from the UK, while France suspended all ferry and rail traffic between the two nations.
Johnson is holding emergency talks on Monday to prevent Christmas food shortages as the freight industry feels the impact of the travel ban.
On Sunday, the UK reported a record rise in daily infections, with 35,928 new cases.
Thurrock in Essex has the highest weekly case rate in England, according to PA’s analysis, with 1,841 new cases recorded in seven days, the equivalent of 1,056 cases per 100,000 people.
This was the country’s biggest weekly increase, up from 387 in the seven days to 9 December.
Havering in London has the second worst rate, up from 513 cases per 100,000 the previous week to 1,021, with 2,652 new cases.
Basildon in Essex is third, rising from 619 cases per 100,000 people to 995, after 1,863 new cases were reported.
Of the 315 local areas in England, 285 – or 90% – have seen a rise in case rates, while 29, or 9%, have seen a fall and one remains unchanged.
The areas with the biggest weekly increase after Thurrock were Rochford in Essex (up from 266 to 864 cases per 100,000, with 755 new cases); Epping Forest in Essex (up from 382 to 956 per 100,000, with 1,260 new cases); Havering; and Castle Point in Essex (up from 289 to 787 per 100,000, with 712 new cases).
All of these areas were placed in the new Tier 4 announced by Johnson on Saturday.
Worst-hit COVID areas in England:
1 Thurrock (Essex), 1056.0 per 100,000 (1,841 weekly cases)
2 Havering (London), 1021.8 per 100,000 (2,652 weekly cases)
3 Basildon (Essex), 995.2 per 100,000 (1,863 weekly cases)
4 Medway (Kent), 981.8 per 100,000 (2,735 weekly cases)
5 Epping Forest (Essex), 956.8 per 100,000 (1,260 weekly cases)
6 Swale (Kent), 912.8 per 100,000 (1,370 weekly cases)
7 Redbridge (London) per 100,000, 884.9 (2,701 weekly cases)
8 Brentwood (Essex) per 100,000, 875.1 (674 weekly cases)
9 Rochford (Essex) per 100,000, 864.2 (755 weekly cases)
10 Ashford (Kent) per 100,000, 842.9 (1,096 weekly cases)
Watch: Emergency talks to prevent Christmas food shortages