Coronavirus rates falling in England’s big cities but rising in towns, figures show

Rates in cities such as Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have been on a downward trend 

Ian Jones
Thursday 22 October 2020 13:24
Coronavirus in numbers

Covid-19 case rates have started to fall in some of England's biggest cities, with the sharpest increases now happening in towns and more suburban areas, latest figures suggest.

Nottingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle are among the cities where the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases rose rapidly at the end of September, coinciding with the start of the new university term, but where levels are now coming down.

The rates have been decreasing for several days, suggesting they are on a downward trend rather than a temporary dip.

In Nottingham the rolling weekly rate of cases peaked at 1,001.2 per 100,000 people for the seven days to 8 October – the highest for any local authority area in England – but since then the number has been falling, and it currently stands at 787.6.

Manchester's current rate is 432.5, after peaking at 583.5 (in the seven days to 3 October); Sheffield's rate is 396.7, down from 500.3 (the seven days to 7 October) while Newcastle stands at 371.5, down from 553.8 (the seven days to 7 October).

All current rates are for the seven days to 14 October.

Exeter, Leeds and Liverpool – all cities with large student populations – have also seen case rates fall in recent days.

The figures suggest the rapid spread of Covid-19 among areas with a high density of student accommodation appears to have halted.

By contrast the places in England recording the biggest growth in case rates are no longer big cities but a mixture of towns and suburbs.

Areas with the largest week-on-week increase in the latest seven-day rates include Gedling, north-east of Nottingham (up from 216.3 to 385.9); Blackburn with Darwen (up from 357.4 to 482.3); Barnsley (up from 225.2 to 348.8); and Blackpool (up from 220.9 to 326.3).

The largely rural borough of Charnwood in Leicestershire, which includes the town of Loughborough – home of Loughborough University – has seen its rate rise from 153.9 to 288.9.

One city – Bristol – has seen a notable jump in the latest figures, but its rate is still far below those recorded by the likes of Nottingham and Manchester in recent weeks, standing at 205.9 up from 99.9.

Overall the numbers suggest the geographical hotspots for Covid-19 in England may have tilted away from big cities and towards built-up areas that do not necessarily have densely-housed student populations – and that the virus is now being spread increasingly through community infections rather than circulating largely within student accommodation.

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