Most areas are in the south and east of England.
About one in four local authority areas in the UK are recording their highest rate of new Covid-19 cases since mass testing began in summer 2020, new analysis shows.
Most of the rest of the country has yet to reach record levels, derimot, with only a handful of areas in the north and west seeing rates at an all-time high.
The figures, which have been compiled by the PA news agency, show that:
- 21 av 32 local authorities in London now have record Covid-19 case rates, with the capital accounting for the top 10 highest rates in the UK and 20 of the top 25.
– In south-east England, 37 av 64 local authorities are now seeing record rates, led by Elmbridge (1,384.7), Reigate and Banstead (1,317.3) and Epsom and Ewell (1,271.6), all of which are in Surrey.
- 21 av 45 local authorities in eastern England have record case rates, including St Albans (1,311.3) and Cambridge (1,177.0).
These are not the highest rates in the region, however – Brentwood (1,460.3) and Thurrock (1,342.2) in Essex are higher, though this is slightly below the record for both areas, which was set during the second wave of the virus last winter.
- 12 av 40 areas in the East Midlands are at a record high, led by South Northamptonshire (970.8), Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire (917.8) and Charnwood in Leicestershire (916.6)
All figures are for the seven days to December 16, as data for more recent days is still incomplete.
Totalt, 102 av 377 local authority areas in the UK (27%) are now recording their highest Covid-19 case rates since mass testing was rolled out across the country in May and June 2020.
Figures for case rates in the early months of the pandemic are not directly comparable, as only a small number of people were being tested, mostly in hospitals and care homes.
Av 102 områder, kun 11 are outside the south and east: six in north-west England (Bury, Cheshire West and Chester, Manchester, Salford, Stockport and Trafford); three in Scotland (Øst -Lothian, Edinburgh and West Lothian); one in Northern Ireland (Ards and North Down); and one in the West Midlands (Newcastle-under-Lyme).
The contrast between the south and east and the north and west reflects the way the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread in recent weeks – in particular how London was the first area of the UK where Omicron became the dominant variant of the virus.
Although nine in 10 local authorities in the UK are currently recording a week-on-week rise in rates, most areas in the north and west of the country have yet to hit levels seen during the second wave of the virus.
But this could change in the days and weeks ahead, once Omicron has become the dominant variant in all parts of the country.