Half of England's major university cities are already on the other side of their coronavirus outbreak, analysis of official data suggests.
In major university cities with more than 20,000 students but excluding London, infections skyrocketed in late September as students and teachers returned to education in droves.
The arrival and intermingling of thousands of strangers from different parts of the country is believed to have exacerbated the spread of the virus in these areas and helped the disease to migrate to the wider community.
According to an analysis of numbers from Public Health England, the average number of daily registered cases is declining in nine of the 18 largest university cities. The promising statistics show that the six areas where the virus rose the most at the start of the new term – Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield – report fewer infections than they did a week ago. And in the university towns, where cases are still on the rise, the rate at which they are increasing has gradually slowed down.
The rolling average of 7-day cases per day in Newcastle – where university students make up nearly a fifth of the city's 270,000 residents – is currently 150.7, according to the numbers up to October 12, the most recent snapshot. This was a third less than the 236 daily infections reported the week before.
The seven-day moving average is believed to be the most accurate method of scoring outbreaks because it takes into account today's variability in infections. In Nottingham – the country's current Covid-19 hotspot – the average daily cases fell by almost 30 percent over the same period – from 476.1 to 338.3.
Manchester, due to enter a level three lockdown today, has seen its rolling average number of cases drop in the seven days since Sept. 28. At that point, the city was recording 419 cases per day, but that has since fallen to 335.4. The downtrend will cast doubt on whether the toughest lockdown bracket is really warranted.
In Sheffield and Leeds, two other hotspots where local leaders are talking to the government about tightening Covid-19 restrictions, cases have been falling steadily for a week, suggesting a downward trend rather than a slip . In Sheffield, the average daily cases dropped from 414.4 on October 5 to 328.7 by October 12, while Leeds daily cases fell from 483.6 to 419 over the same period.
Exeter, which put stricter lockdown restrictions on officials ruling outbreaks there for college dormitories, saw one of its most dramatic drops in daily cases in the week ending October 12, with infections nearly halving from 77.9 to 41.9.
The rolling average of 7-day cases per day in Newcastle – where university students make up nearly a fifth of the city's 270,000 residents – is currently 150.7, according to figures up to October 12, the most recent snapshot. This was a third fewer than the 236 daily infections reported the week before
In Nottingham, the country's current Covid-19 hotspot, the average daily cases fell by almost 30 percent over the same period – from 476.1 to 338.3
Manchester, due to enter a level three lockdown today, has seen its rolling average number of cases drop in the seven days since Sept. 28. At that point, the city was recording 419 cases per day, but that has since fallen to 335.4. The downtrend will cast doubt on whether the toughest lockdown bracket is really warranted
Even in Liverpool – the country's first "Tier Three" restricted city – cases fell from 487.1 to 431.6 in the past week
In Sheffield, the average daily cases dropped from 414.4 on October 5 to 328.7 by October 12. Cases have been steadily declining for a week, suggesting a downtrend rather than a slip
Leeds' daily cases fell from 483.6 to 419 over the same period. Local leaders in Leeds are currently in talks with the government about tightening Covid-19 restrictions
HOW DID THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF CASES HAVE CHANGED WEEKLY IN THE MAJOR UNIVERSITY CITIES?
From left to right the list reads: Name of the university town; average daily cases in the seven days through October 12; average daily cases in the seven days through October 5; average daily cases for the seven days through September 28.
Bristol is one of the largest university cities where cases have continued to rise over the past week, but the rate is still well below other hotspots. In the city, the average daily cases rose from 78 on October 5 to 136.6 on October 12.
Birmingham is also seeing a high number of cases, but its daily cases have only increased 13 percent in the past week – from 301 to 343 – from 25 percent the week before, suggesting the outbreak is slowing there.
Similarly, in Leicester, the daily cases increased from 86.3 to 109.7.
Preston (79.3), Cambridge (22), Portsmouth (37.7) and Coventry (93.4) are still seeing fewer than 100 cases a day despite increasing infections over the past week.
Salford is the only other major university town that saw an increase, even though the increase was only 9 percent from the week.
More than 22,000 students across England have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the new semester, according to a report from the University and College Union.
Thousands more have had to self-isolate in student accommodation, and more and more lectures are being taken online to reduce face-to-face contact.
The numbers suggest that the rapid spread of Covid-19 appears to have stalled in areas with high density of student accommodation.
In contrast, the places in England that are seeing the greatest growth in fall rates are no longer big cities, but a mix of cities and suburbs.
Areas with the largest week-to-week increase in last 7-day prices include Gedling, northeast of Nottingham (from 216.3 to 385.9); Blackburn with Darwen (from 357.4 to 482.3); Barnsley (from 225.2 to 348.8); and Blackpool (from 220.9 to 326.3).
The largely rural district of Charnwood in Leicestershire, which also includes the town of Loughborough, which is home to Loughborough University, saw the rate rise from 153.9 to 288.9.
Overall, the numbers suggest that the geographic hotspots for Covid-19 in England may have shifted away from major cities towards built-up areas that don't necessarily have many students – and that the virus is now increasingly spreading through community infections than largely circulate in student accommodation.
The finding that many of the major cities and university towns are emerging after the virus peak is being used as ammunition by local leaders and MPs to tackle the third stage lockdowns.
Greater Manchester has until noon today to sign a deal with the government after a week of bitter arguments over a compensation package if tough lockdown restrictions are enforced.
Mayor Andy Burnham broke the "provocative" deadline this morning, but admitted that if Boris Johnson enforces the matter, he will have to abide by the law and said he would give the "penny pinching" government one last number – which is already believed to offer the range up to £ 100 million.
Mr Burnham also touched on "selective" numbers highlighted by Downing Street, which suggested that Greater Manchester hospitals could be overwhelmed in weeks if tougher measures were not taken. He insisted that the occupancy of the intensive care beds at this time of year was approximately normal at 80 percent.
The high-stakes brinkmanship came when a portion of the country faces escalated to the highest lockdown class, which meant closing pubs and restaurants as well as a ban on mixing households indoors. Mr Johnson met his cabinet this morning to discuss the raging crisis.
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Burnham criticized the nightly statement by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick setting the noon ultimatum.
The mayor, who called for support equal to the 80 percent vacation program for those affected by the lockdown, claimed Greater Manchester leaders "never got a number" of how much money they were receiving. And he said they must have carte blanche on how the money will be spent.
“What I will suggest to the Greater Manchester leaders when we meet early this morning is that we write to the government and state what we think is a fair number for that support, given that we have been restricted for three years Months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here, ”said Burnham.
"The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people who we believe will need support in a Tier 3 lockdown."
Mr Burnham said, “I don't think the government should enforce or dictate that way. We have to work together as a country and I have offered to work with the government all year round.
& # 39; Greater Manchester needs to put a fair financial framework on Tier 3 as there is a chance all parts of England will fall to Tier 3 at some point in the winter and if the conditions are not right we will see real harm to people's lives at large Country.
"This is a problem for everyone and it's not just about standing up for Greater Manchester."
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