Could any other areas go into Tier 4 before Christmas?
MORE areas across England could move into Tier 4 after the new coronavirus strain has spread across the country.
London and the South East were plunged into "lockdown" yesterday morning, but several other parts of the country appear at risk with higher infection rates than Tier 4 areas.
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Which areas are in Tier 4?
Surrey (excluding Waverley)
The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
Which Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas have the highest infection rates?
Places in Tier 2 and Tier 3 with the highest infection rates:
Boston, Tier 3: 435 cases per 100,000
Lincoln, Tier 3: 412 cases per 100,000
Stoke-on-Trent, Tier 3: 339 cases per 100,000
Rushmoor, Tier 2: 335 cases per 100,000
East Staffordshire, Tier 3: 332 cases per 100,000
West Lindsey, Tier 3: 322 cases per 100,000
Pendle, Tier 3: 315 cases per 100,000
South Tyneside, Tier 3: 313 cases per 100,000
Rugby, Tier 3: 300 cases per 100,000
Wolverhampton, Tier 3: 300 cases per 100,000
Places in Tier 4 with the lowest infection rates:
Gosport: 163 cases per 100,000
North Hertfordshire: 213 cases per 100,000
Windsor and Maidenhead: 236 cases per 100,000
Welwyn Hatfield: 246.3 cases per 100,000
Mole Valley: 250 cases per 100,000
Guildford: 250 cases per 100,000
West Berkshire: 262 cases per 100,000
Stevenage: 270 cases per 100,000
St Albans: 273 cases per 100,000
Wokingham: 274 cases per 100,000
Boston and Lincoln, in Lincolnshire, each have around 400 cases per 100,000 people – double that of some Tier 4 areas.
They have the highest infection rates of all areas under Tier 3 restrictions, according to PA analysis of Public Health England data.
Next are Stoke-on-Trent and East Staffordshire, which each have more than 300 cases per 100,000.
But Rushmoor, on the border of locked down Surrey, has 335 cases per 100,000 – and is only in Tier 2.
It's higher than several Tier 4 areas, including Wokingham (274), West Berkshire (262), Welwyn Hatfield (246.3) and North Hertfordshire (213).
Gosport, in Hampshire, has the lowest cases of all Tier 4 areas, at just 163 per 100,000.
It's been lumped into the toughest restrictions despite have cases 10 times lower than England's Covid hotspot, Thurrock.
Thurrock, in Essex, has a staggering 1,056 cases per 100,000 people.
Gosport Borough Council's leader said he "can't understand" why the area has been moved into Tier 4, the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth City Council said it was given "no warning" ahead of the Prime Ministers press briefing on Saturday night.
Boris Johnson plunged 18 million into the draconian new Tier 4 measures which came into effect Sunday morning.
London, the South East and East of England are now in restrictions almost identical to the November lockdown, with Christmas cancelled at the eleventh hour.
People in those areas have been given "stay at home" orders – as shops, gyms, and hairdressers were yet again forced to close just two weeks after re-opening.
The next review of the Tiered system isn't until December 30, when officials consider not only the infection rate of each area, but the cases in over 60s and NHS bed capacity.
But with a new strain of the virus spreading viciously, some experts have questioned why Tier 4 has not been applied across the country.
Tier 4 could be extended across the country
Public health leaders have warned that the mutated form of Covid is already sweeping across the UK.
Dr Susan Hopkins, Public Health England, said every other region in England has had cases detected in small numbers and risk seeing a similar explosion if infections are allowed to spread further.
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “It has also been detected in Wales, in Scotland, we have not had any detected in Northern Ireland.”
The new variant is “effectively seeded” across Wales and was a factor in the rapid rise of cases there, the country's health minister Vaughan Gething told BBC News on Sunday.
Where are Covid cases highest?
The following areas have the highest infection rates. From left to right, it reads: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 16; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 9:
Thurrock: 1056.0, 387.2
Havering: 1021.8, 513.6
Basildon: 995.2, 619.7
Medway: 981.8, 618.9
Epping Forest: 956.8, 382.7
Swale: 912.8, 645.6
Redbridge: 884.9, 402.3
Brentwood: 875.1, 399.9
Rochford: 864.2, 266.7
Ashford: 842.9, 453.0
The Health Secretary said it would be "very difficult" to keep the deadly bug under control without the vaccine having been widely administered.
The Pfizer/BioNTechvaccine is currently being rolled out across the country with hopes the 25million vulnerable adults will be vaccinated by Easter.
But so far only 350,000 have been given their first dose.
Mr Hancock admitted the new variant – which early analysis shows is 70 per cent more infectious – was "out of control".
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Hancock yesterday said: "The cases in the Tier 4 areas have absolutely skyrocketed in the last few days, two weeks or so. We have got a long way to go to sort this.
"We've essentially got to get that vaccine."
When pushed over whether Brits in Tier 4 areas would remain in lockdown into the new year – despite a review expected on December 30 – Mr Hancock said: "Given how much faster this new variant spreads, it's going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine."
Speaking about the new strain of the virus, Professor Openshaw of Imperial College London, a member of Nervtag, told The Times: "It’s very unlikely anything less than really effective measures are going to control it.
"My concern is people are not going to comply. It’s really important people appreciate the danger.
"It does seem inevitable it will spread but it doesn’t mean it’s useless trying to prevent that from happening."
He added that it may be "necessary to extend" the Tier 4 restrictions further into England as the virus spreads.
After the Downing Street briefing on Saturday, Prof Jonathan Stoye said he didn't understand why Tier 4 was only imposed on part of the country.
Prof Stoye, Retrovirus-Host Interactions Laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute, said: “I’m not certain that I understand the rationale of a partial imposition of Tier 4 rules.
"If enhanced restrictions are required to control the spread of the variant, why aren’t they being imposed across the whole country?"
He said if the variant had spread fast across the Southeast while it was under Tier 2 and 3 restrictions, it could do so in other parts of the UK which now have small numbers of cases.
The PM was forced to put swathes of the south into Tier 4 on the back of scientific evidence the new strain, called VUI2020/01, was spreading rapidly.
Data shows cases are soaring across these parts of the country.
Cases per 100,000 people have tripled in just one week in Thurrock, Essex, the "hotspot" of England.
The authority recorded 1,841 new cases in the seven days to December 16 – the equivalent of 1,056.0 cases per 100,000 people. This is up from 387.2 in the seven days to December 9.
Rochford, also in Essex, has seen cases rise from 266 per 100,000 to 864.
Infections have doubled in Havering, the second Covid hotspot in England, and Redbridge – both in London.
Havering's cases are now 1,022 per 100,000, up from 514, while Redbridge has 885, up from 403.
Overall 90 per cent of England has seen a rise in infection rates in the most recent week, to December 16.
Only 29 of the 315 areas have seen cases fall, making up nine per cent, and just one region remains unchanged.
And yesterday saw the biggest daily increase yet in UK coronavirus cases – doubling in just a week.
A shocking 35,928 infections were recorded in 24 hours – a 95 per cent increase on last Sunday's daily infection figures that saw 18,447 cases recorded.
The new stats released today also recorded another 326 fatalities – double the 144 deaths reported last Sunday. The UK's grim death toll now stands at 67,401.
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