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Coronavirus researchers have identified 25 hotspots on a UK watchlist as the country's daily number of infections continues to rise and doubts are cast on the lockdown lifting.
Stirling has taken top spot on the Zoe Covid Symptom Study's weekly list of hotspots, which is once again dominated by places in northern England and Scotland.
The central Scottish city is followed by four places in Greater Manchester – Bury, the city of Manchester, Rochdale and Trafford – to round out the top five.
Bolton, Lancashire was sixth, followed by Kirklees in West Yorkshire, Perth and Kinross in central Scotland, Sunderland in England's North East, and Luton, Bedfordshire.
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A map showing daily active cases of symptomatic coronavirus in the UK
(Image: ZOE COVID)
The Zoe study suggests there are currently 11,908 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average, a 110 per cent rise from 5,677 daily cases a week ago.
Tim Spector, founder of the Zoe Covid Study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said the rise represents an "epidemic" among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Brits, with the highest rates among younger people.
The 'hotspot' table ranks the UK local authorities with the highest estimates of active cases in the seven days to Tuesday.
Stirling, which was not on last week's list, had an estimated rate of 838 cases per 100,000 people, while Bury and Manchester both had rates of 672.
People wear face masks at the Thistle Centre in Stirling in central Scotland (file photo)
(Image: Stirling Observer)
These charts show the recent trends of daily active cases of coronavirus in England, Scotland and Wales
(Image: ZOE COVID)
Cheshire, which ranked 25th, had an estimated rate of 273, the study found.
There are 13 newcomers on this week's list, including Stirling, Rochdale, Aberdeenshire, Derby and Cheshire.
Tameside, which topped the table last week, is not in this week's 25.
Leicester, Barnsley, Gateshead, Glasgow and Bedford have also tumbled out the top 25.
Zoe Covid Study watchlist
These 25 upper tier local authorities are on the Zoe Covid Study app's watchlist of places with the highest estimates of prevalence rates average over the week to Tuesday..
1. Stirling – 838 estimated cases per 100,000 people (new)
2. Bury – 672 (last week's rank: 3)
2. Manchester – 672 (last week's rank: 13)
4. Rochdale – 605 (new)
5. Trafford – 589 (last week's rank: 7)
6. Bolton – 553 (last week's rank: 10)
7. Kirklees – 539 (last week's rank: 8)
8. Perth and Kinross – 501 (new)
9. Sunderland – 499 (last week's rank: 16)
10. Luton – 473 (new)
11. South Ayrshire – 453 (last week's rank: 25)
12. East Lancashire – 395 (new)
13. Edinburgh – 390 (last week's rank: 24)
14. Southwark, south London – 379 (new)
14. St Helens – 379 (new)
16. Wigan – 349 (last week's rank: 19)
17. Oldham – 345 (new)
18. Renfrewshire – 336 (new)
19. West Lothian – 309 (new)
20. East Dunbartonshire – 297 (last week's rank: 5)
21. Aberdeenshire – 295 (new)
22. Wrexham – 290 (last week's rank: 21)
22. Leeds – 290 (last week's rank: 12)
24. Derby – 288 (new)
25. Cheshire – 273 (new)
The local watchlist is based on weekly reports from thousands of Zoe Covid Study app users in each area and the proportion of newly symptomatic users who have tested positive for Covid.
Professor Spector said: "The Covid-19 situation in the UK has rapidly changed from one of the best performing nations to a nation again struggling with rising cases.
"Official confirmed cases are now around 7,500, which is the highest daily figure since late February.
"However, when you dig into the data, it’s clear that this is an epidemic among the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated populations in the UK and, due to the way vaccines have been rolled out, is largely affecting younger generations.
"The rapid rise is likely down to two compounding factors; increased social interaction and a newly dominant variant that is much more transmissible.
The trend of daily new cases of coronavirus in the UK by vaccination status
(Image: ZOE COVID)
People sit outside a mobile Covid-19 vaccination centre at Bolton Town Hall on Wednesday
"It’s no surprise that people are becoming fatigued with social distancing after a long 15 months of restrictions, which will only encourage the spread.
"The good news is that fully vaccinated people have much greater protection.
"Vaccines are working and we want to encourage people to exercise caution, especially if they feel at all unwell, until they’ve been fully vaccinated.
"The race is on to fully vaccinate the whole population to save lives and return to normal life."
The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, is the UK's dominant strain, officials have said.
The trend of daily new cases of Covid in the UK and England
(Image: ZOE COVID)
The Zoe study estimated there are currently 11,908 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average, based on swab test data from up to five days ago.
It is a rise of 110 per cent on last week, when there were 5,677 daily cases, said researchers.
In terms of prevalence, on average one in 543 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid, the study suggests.
Cases have increased the most in the 20-29 age group, followed by the 0-19 age group, said researchers.
The UK R value is thought to be 1.3, with regional values of 1.4 in England, and 1.3 in both Scotland and Wales. An estimate for Northern Ireland was not available.
People queue at a coronavirus vaccination centre in Moss Side, Manchester, earlier this month
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
The number of new cases is higher and increasing faster in the unvaccinated population in the UK, the study found.
It is estimated there are currently 1,917 new daily symptomatic cases of Covid in vaccinated people, an increase of 89 per cent from 1,014 cases a week ago, compared with 9,991 new daily symptomatic cases in unvaccinated people, a rise of 114 per cent from 4,662 cases last week.
The study found that a small proportion of people have become infected with the virus despite receiving two doses of a vaccine.
Researchers collected reports from 210 app users who tested positive for coronavirus despite receiving two jabs.
A further 182 reported testing positive after receiving one dose.
A list of 25 coronavirus 'hotspots' in the UK compiled by the Zoe Covid Study
(Image: ZOE COVID)
The study suggests the approximate risk of Covid infection in unvaccinated Brits is 1 in 2,908.
The estimated risk of catching the virus after one vaccine dose is one in 7,091, and for those who have received two jabs it is one in 221,455, said researchers.
The latest data is based on 6,072 swab tests carried out between May 23 and June 5, and it excludes the lateral flow tests.
Infections hit three-month high
The Government said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 7,540 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, the highest single-day rise since February 26.
The Government also said six more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 127,860.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
One in 10 UK local areas (38 out of 380) are currently recording Covid-19 rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people, latest figures show.
This is the highest number of areas above this threshold since March 23.
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They now include places like Blackpool, with 111.2 cases per 100,000, up week-on-week from 43.7; East Dunbartonshire (110.5, up from 64.4); Staffordshire Moorlands (100.6, up from 32.5); Leicester (100.5, up from 83.3); and Cheshire West & Chester (100.3, up from 31.2).
In total, 309 of the UK’s 380 local authority areas recorded a week-on-week rise in Covid-19 case rates in the latest figures – the highest proportion since the start of January.
All rates are for the seven days to June 5 and have been calculated by the PA news agency from Public Health England data published on Wednesday.
Government data up to June 8 shows that of the 69,251,163 jabs given in the UK so far, 40,710,319 were first doses – a rise of 136,802 on the previous day.
Some 28,540,844 were second doses, an increase of 313,482.
The rise in cases has fuelled calls for the Government to delay its lift all or most of England's lockdown restrictions on June 21.
Boris Johnson has said the Government will assess the impact the coronavirus vaccination programme is having before deciding whether to go ahead with the next stage of lockdown lifting in England.
Speaking during a visit to Cornwall on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said: “I think what everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up and, in some places, hospitalisations are going up.
“I think what we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up enough protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage.
“That’s what we’ll be looking at. There are arguments being made one way or the other. But we will be driven by the data. We’ll be looking at that and we’ll be setting it out on Monday.”