COVID-19: Where are the coronavirus hotspots in the UK?

Daily deaths and hospital admissions due to COVID-19 are at their lowest since last summer. And restrictions are being relaxed as the UK makes progress in vaccinating its population.

Yet there are pockets where coronavirus cases have risen sharply recently.

Data shows that although the average infection rate in the UK has fallen by 15% to 40.1 per 100,000 people for the two-week period ending 4 May, there have been sharp rises in some areas.

There are 28 local authority areas in England, 4 in Northern Ireland and 2 in Scotland that have case rates twice the national average.

Nearly half of those areas recorded an increase in infections when compared to the preceding two-week period.

Of the 10 places with the highest daily case rate only four areas – Derry City and Strabane, Kirklees, Barnsley, and Doncaster – recorded a fall in cases compared to the preceeding two weeks.

Hyndburn in Lancashire has the highest two-week case rate of 199.9 per 100,000 people. It has seen a 211.5% rise in its case rate. That is one of the largest increases among the places in the country that currently have the highest infection rates.

An outbreak at Mount Carmel High School in Hyndburn, where as many as 50 pupils and staff were believed to have contracted the virus is reportedly behind the high case rate.

Bolton, which is located 15 miles north west of Manchester, had the second highest infection rate in the country at 158.9 cases per 100,000 people for the same period.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that Bolton was a "cause of concern" after the town recorded one of the highest number of infections over a 14-day period ending 4 May.

Mr Burnham said there has been a "significant increase in all-age positivity" in Bolton, which he says is "linked to international travel, particularly to India".

Scientists and doctors are concerned that a new double mutation COVID-19 variant thought to be behind a sudden surge in cases in India could be more transmissible and may even make vaccines less effective.

Sometimes, the number of cases recorded in an area goes up simply because more people are being tested.

That doesn’t seem to be the case in Hyndburn or Bolton where the number of tests over the period has remained relatively stable.

The positivity rate, which is the proportion of all tests coming back positive, in Hyndburn and Bolton has doubled over the same period to 2.7% and 4.5% respectively.

The World Health Organisation has said for the virus to be under control the proportions of tests giving a positive result should be less than 5%.

We should keep all this in context however.

Yes, compared to the rest of the country the situation is not good in the areas mentioned above.

But for the UK as a whole, compared to the infection rates at the start of the year, things are relatively better.

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