UK Covid hotspots
The government’s latest figures, for the seven days to 25 December, show the highest rates of Covid are in London.
Some 7,773 new cases were recorded in Lambeth, south London, in seven days to 25 December, at a rate of 2,415.4 cases per 100,000 people.
Other areas of London with high rates of infection include Southwark, with 7,279 new cases, and Lewisham, with 6,871.
The figures are based on the number of people who have tested positive for Covid in a lab-reported test.
Additionally, in England, those with positive rapid lateral flow tests with no negative confirmatory PCR test within 72 hours are also included.
In Northern Ireland, the local authority with the highest rate is Derry City & Strabane. The area recorded a rate of 1,653.1 cases per 100,000.
In Scotland, East Renfrewshire has the highest rate of cases at 1,485.5, and Cardiff has the highest rate in Wales at 1,349.1.
Across the UK, the areas with the biggest week-on-week rises are:
1. Barrow-in-Furness (up from 544.0 to 1,554.1)
2. Copeland (439.4 to 1,325.7)
3. Derry City & Strabane (768.3 to 1,653.1)
4. Tameside (708.0 to 1,569.2)
5. West Lancashire (533.6 to 1,324.1)
The news comes as people in the UK scramble to secure lateral flow and PCR tests in the lead-up to New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Many people are reporting that they are unable to order PCR tests for home delivery, with slots for home delivery for lateral flow tests unavailable too.
Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said people are often unable to find Covid tests in chemists because of “patchy” and “inconsistent” supplies.
A leading scientist has called the prospect of revellers attending New Year’s Eve gatherings without being tested for Covid beforehand “very worrying”.
Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told BBC Radio 4’s Today that conditions at a New Year’s Eve gathering are “perfect” for spreading coronavirus.
He said: “We know the situations in which transmission happens and fortunately I don’t think we are facing the sort of lockdown that was necessary in order to cope in the very earliest part of this year.
“But we do know that crowding together in poorly ventilated spaces, particularly if you are shouting over loud music and so on, is absolutely perfect in terms of transmitting this very, very highly transmissible virus.”