As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to outline his roadmap to ease the corona-induced lockdown across the nation, a fresh UK government borough count suggests a number of relevant COVID-19 hot spots might well delay the premier’s initiative, or at least make it not as sustainable as has been projected.
The official Whitehall line is "all parts of the UK move together”. However, taking into account the incidence updates (as of 5-6 May), and given the apparent difference in the scale of the virus spread across the country, the demands of different regions may likewise be different.
“There could soon be people in some areas straining at the seams to get out and about again, while others, including the leaders of the devolved institutions, might well be more reticent", Sky News reports outlining the specifics of how the novel virus has been trotting across the nation.
The new charts identify the locations where the rates of infection are highest and where easing restrictions could have a more severe impact.
It has become known that Kent (3,968 confirmed cases), Lancashire (3,055), and Birmingham (3,011) lead the charts in terms of confirmed cases. Now, more specifically, it appear the highest incidence of COVID-19 is in Barrow-in-Furness, which has reported 540 cases, according to the government data. Its relatively small population means that this number corresponds to a rate of 804 cases of the virus per 100,000 people.
Lancaster (513 cases/100,000 population) comes second, while in third place is another council in the county of Cumbria, South Lakeland, which has 482 cases/100,000.
Separately, geographic clustering of confirmed cases in England falls on Sunderland (a rate of 457/100,000), Gateshead (453), and South Tyneside (428) among the councils worst affected.
It is noteworthy that the two remaining boroughs in the former Tyne & Wear metropolitan county, Newcastle upon Tyne (327) and North Tyneside (247), appear to be doing do much better than their neighbours.
The aforementioned areas currently seem to be the most affected, despite densely-populated London and its multiple boroughs having been universally considered to have fared the worst at the onset of the pandemic.
In the capital, the virus has taken the biggest toll on Brent (421/100,000) followed by Southwark and Harrow (each on 386) and Lambeth (356).
The other extreme, southwest and southeast England, appear to have been the least affected by the pandemic in terms of incidence per the number of residents.
In Scotland, the Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board dominates the charts. When the lockdown began, this one area accounted for 31% of confirmed cases in Scotland, but its share has since dipped to 25% overall cases. Lothian, based around Edinburgh, has moved in the opposite direction. When the lockdown started it reported one in eight of all confirmed cases, with its share gradually rising to 17% of the nation's cases.
In Wales, three localities each have more than 1,000 confirmed cases: Cardiff (1,789 cases), Rhondda Cynon Taf (1,195), and Swansea (1,129).
However, here again, once the population is taken into account, it is Rhondda Cynon Taf which heads the list with 498 cases per 100,000 people compared with Cardiff's rate of 491.
The analysis comes as the UK has confirmed (as of 5 p.m. 7 May) 211,364 cases of COVID-19, of whom 31,241 have died, with the UK showing the second biggest corona death tally in the world after the US.
Whitehall is currently preoccupied with drawing up a consistent roadmap to exit the sweeping crisis, with Johnson having recently promised to “fire up Britain’s economic engine".