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COVID infections ‘up to fives times higher in north of England than the south’

George Martin
·3-min read
Women wearing a face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past a sign reminding pedestrians to wear face coverings, in Manchester, northern England on October 6, 2020, after localised restrictions were introduced across northwest following a spike in coronavirus cases. - More than 42,000 people confirmed to have Covid-19 have died in Britain, the worst toll in Europe. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Cases have risen sharply in the north of the UK. (Getty)

The number of coronavirus cases in the north of England are up to five times higher than in the south, according to a study of COVID infections.

According to data compiled by the COVID Symptom Study app, developed by analysts at King’s College London, there were an estimated 21,192 new cases recorded across the UK every day in the two weeks up to 2 October.

Their data also revealed there was a stark difference between the estimated number of infections in the north and the south of England.

The researchers estimate that in the North West, the region with the highest rate of new infections, daily new cases stand at between 536 and 809 people per million of the population.

In the South East, daily new cases per million people are between 69 and 144.

Tim Spector, the scientist in charge of the study, tweeted: “Only a small increase in cases today - but the unexplained five fold difference between North and South persists as it has for last 3-4 months.

“Deprivation plays a small role - any other suggestions?”

A man wears a face mask under his chin as he walks near a sign urging people "Mask up" in Manchester, northwest England on August 3, 2020, following a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region. - Britain on Friday "put the brakes on" easing lockdown measures and imposed new rules on millions of households in northern England, following concerns over a spike in coronavirus infections. The government increased regional lockdown measures -- under which people from different households are banned from meeting indoors -- for some four million people across Greater Manchester and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A man wears a face mask under his chin in Manchester. (Getty)

“We estimate there have been 21,192 daily new cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 02 October 2020,” a report sent to the government by the app’s makers on Tuesday says.

“This is based on the number of newly symptomatic app users per day, and the proportion of these who give positive swab tests.”

Read more: UK reports 14,542 new cases - almost 2,000 more than yesterday

Cases have skyrocketed in a number of northern towns and cities in recent weeks, including Manchester and Newcastle, despite local lockdown rules being imposed.

Manchester now has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK, with positive tests doubling in the space of just one week.

The city is now the UK’s COVID-19 hotspot as Public Health England data published on Monday afternoon shows that the weekly rate of new cases has now topped 500 cases per 100,000 people.

Watch: How does a data blunder affect the battle against Covid-19?

A total of 2,927 new cases were recorded in Manchester in the seven days to October 2 – the equivalent of 529.4 cases per 100,000, up from 246.4 in the previous week.

Knowsley has the second highest rate, which has jumped from 324.1 to 498.5, with 752 new cases, and Liverpool is in third place, up from 306.4 to 487.1, with 2,426 new cases.

Local leaders in the north of England have accused the government of prioritising the south with its response to the pandemic.

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham tweeted over the weekend accusing the government of being “London-centric”.

He said: “The timing of the lifting of national lockdown was London-centric. Please remember this the next time you see politicians pointing fingers at our people.”

While Sarah McNulty, director of public health for Knowsley, told The Times: “We know that we are a very deprived borough and the evidence tells us that means people have less choices.

“For instance, they are more likely to have low-paid front-facing jobs, and we don’t know if there are issues of having to work.”

Watch: The complications linked to the coronavirus

Coronavirus: what happened today

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