Stoke-on-Trent has been named in the top five most likely places to join London and the South East in Tier 4 as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
A total of 44 local authority areas – currently in Tier 2 or 3 – have been identified as being at risk of going into lockdown imminently.
This is because they all have Covid-19 infection rates higher than North Hertfordshire – the Tier 4 area with the lowest rate.
The Potteries is fifth on the list behind Burnley in Lancashire, both Lincoln and Boston in Lincolnshire and Rushmoor in Hampshire.
It had a case rate of 340.5 per 100,000 residents in seven days to December 17.
The next review date of tiers is scheduled to be December 30, meaning more areas could go into Tier 4 before the end of the year.
Now Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones – the city’s top health chief – is urging families to avoid gathering on Christmas Day even though they are allowed to do so under the current rules.
He said: “It’s also essential that people act in a really sensible way over the Christmas period to try and kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent. Just because you can see your family doesn’t mean that you should.”
The news comes after the Government’s chief scientific adviser warned Sir Patrick indicated Tier 4 may be needed in wider areas of England, particularly as Christmas mixing may result in an increased spread of cases.
He said: “The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily, it’s more transmissible, we absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.
“I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it’s likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced.”
Asked if Tier 4 measures would be increased, Home Secretary Patel told Sky News: “As this virus changes, grows, the Government takes proactive measures, we’ve seen that… It is inevitable as people travel and of course we’re urging people not to travel for the sake of everybody’s health, we have to take strong measures and we’re doing that. We’re constantly reviewing these measures as well.”
She added: “Well of course if the virus continues to spread then we will take stronger measures, because at the end of the day our objective is to save lives and to keep people safe, but right now it’s not for me to pre-empt any change because obviously there’ll be a natural review mechanism in two weeks’ time.”
The below information is compiled by the PA from official government data released via the coronavirus dashboard.
From left to right, it reads: name of local authority; the tier of Covid-19 restrictions in which the local authority is currently placed; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 17; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 17; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 10; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 10.
Data for the most recent four days (December 18-21) has been excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.
The five areas most at risk of going into Tier 4
- Burnley, Tier 3, 437.5, (389), 299.1, (266)
- Lincoln, Tier 3, 408.9, (406), 482.4, (479)
- Boston, Tier 3, 406.1, (285), 426.1, (299
- Rushmoor, Tier 2, 378.4, (358), 173.4, (164)
- Stoke-on-Trent, Tier 3, 340.5, (873), 297.6, (763)
The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.
Of the 315 local areas in England, 284 (90%) have seen a rise in case rates, 30 (10%) have seen a fall and one is unchanged.
Thurrock in Essex still has the highest rate in England, with 2,055 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 17 – the equivalent of 1178.7 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up steeply from 435.9 in the seven days to December 10.