England's north-south divide between coronavirus cases reversed over the past month. The outbreaks in the north were controlled by Tier 3 rules and lockdown, while the falls in the south spiraled.
London is expected to move into the third tier a week before Christmas today, while the already strict rules in the north will relax later this week.
Official figures show that there are only two parts of the north of England left that are among the hardest hit areas in the country after the list was almost entirely populated by the north and the Midlands a few weeks ago.
Data shows that local lockdown rules appear to be working – and the government's decision to go easy on the south resulted in a devastating surge in infections just a week before Christmas.
Just four days before the old levels went into effect on October 14, 29 of England's 50 most infected councils were in the North West and 16 in the North East and Yorkshire.
But two months later, the tables had turned with the latest data from Public Health England for the seven days ending December 9, which shows that London has the highest number of councils on the list at 14, followed by the South East and East England with 13 councils each.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will speak in the House of Commons at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, before a televised briefing is held later, at which he is expected to announce the capital will have to close this week.
The city begins to close bit by bit. Schools are now planning to close before Christmas and Mayor Sadiq Khan says students should stay home until mid-January to stop the virus.
MEPs were warned this morning that there was "exponential growth" in the London boroughs and some of the main commuter areas such as Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. In the meantime, Kent, who is already in Tier 3, could see restrictions tighten further, with a surge in cases that have not yet fallen.
North-South Divide: The graph above shows the infection rates in England one day before the old animal system came into effect on October 13th (left) and the infection rates across the British nation on December 8th (right).
The above map shows the percentage change in Covid-19 infections up to December 6th. There is a marked reversal in the north of England and the south-west, but an increase in London, the south-east and the east of England
HOW THE TOP TEN HAVE CHANGED FROM OCTOBER TO DECEMBER
Top 10 councils with the highest Covid-19 infection rates on October 10th
Top 10 councils with the highest Covid-19 infection rates on December 6th
West Lancashire (423.4)
St. Helens (420.9)
Burnley and South Tyneside are the only northern councils left among the worst hit areas. The former hotspots Liverpool, Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton have left the most infected areas.
Covid-19 hospitalizations also show that the second wave has shifted decisively south, with admissions in the east of England, London, the Midlands and the South East increasing compared to December 6, compared to last week. Although they have been falling in the north, recent data from the NHS show they are rising again.
The England outbreak comes after the capital was declared the nation's outbreak hotspot last week with the highest number of infections per 100,000 people.
Greenwich, in the southeast of the city, was the first local council to tell its schools to close four days before the end of the school year. Others should follow today's announcement by the Minister of Health.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has endorsed the Council's move and said he would like the government to apply the approach across the country.
"The mayor supports early school closings and wants the government to consider closing schools starting Tuesday," his spokesman said. "He wants Monday to be the last day of school."
Official data shows that the London lockdown outbreak – when cases actually increased – was largely due to infections in schools that weren't locked like in March 2020.
There is fear of a “third wave” of infections after Christmas, when up to three households are allowed to mingle between December 23 and 27.
Boris Johnson warned last night that grandparents should consider visiting their families over Christmas, especially since their Covid-19 vaccination could barely take months.
The latest infection data from a week after the end of the second lockdown shows that the most infections have occurred in Kent, Essex and London.
Swale in Kent was the Covid-19 hotspot after registering 633.7 cases per 100,000. It was followed by Medway, also in Kent, at 613.9 and Basildon, at Essex, at 613.8.
Havering was the most heavily infected district in the capital at 506.3 per 100,000, although many other districts also featured high on the infection maps.
Of the two councils in northern England, Burnley ranked 33rd on the list at 287.9 per 100,000 and South Tyneside ranked 38th after the testers identified 272.2 per 100,000.
NO10 refuses to cancel the five-day Christmas break
Downing Street has insisted that the relaxation of social distancing rules continue this Christmas, despite mounting warnings that this will lead to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Number 10 stressed Monday that the public should remain "very cautious" during the holiday season, but said there are no plans to review the guidelines after a "very difficult year for many people".
However, there have been growing concerns about a renewed spike in Covid-19 cases due to the easing in the UK to allow bubbles of up to three households between December 23rd and 27th.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Frank Atherton, issued a sharp warning: "Save lives now, don't mix with other people".
"Do not put yourself and your family at risk for the sake of tradition," he said on Monday.
But the Prime Minister's official spokesman said No. 10 had not reconsidered the relaxation.
& # 39; There are no plans to review the Christmas instructions. We also said that the public should continue to be cautious, ”he said.
“We realized that it is a limited relief to allow families to gush over the Christmas season after a very difficult year for many people. However, it remains important for the public to follow the guidelines. & # 39;
It's a sharp change from the introduction of the old animal system, when Nottingham in the Midlands had the highest infection rate per 100,000 people at 880.4.
It was followed by the Liverpool district of Knowsley in the northwest with 667.5 per 100,000 and Liverpool city center with 635.3 per 100,000.
There were no southern councils in the list of the 50 most infected councils.
The highest rate of infection in London was in Ealing, where 83 out of 315 local areas in the country were at 127.3 per 100,000. And in the south – including the South East, South West and East of England – it was recorded in Bristol at 120 per 100,000.
In London, the hospitality and cultural sectors could close shortly, which could destroy businesses a few days before Christmas. Tier 2 shoppers are not allowed to shop in major retail centers such as Oxford Street.
West End theaters are also preparing to close after tomorrow night's performances.
Mr Khan warned that without additional help, Tier 3 would be "catastrophic" for the city's businesses and land in a "golden quarter" of the year before Christmas.
He told Sky News it was "possible" that a decision on a tier shift could be made today, adding, "If the government decides to do so, they will need to provide additional support beyond what is offered to ensure this Companies go bankrupt. " & # 39; he told Sky News.
“If they go bust, not only will hundreds of thousands of Londoners be unemployed, but our ability to recover from this pandemic will be much more difficult. It is not in anyone's interest for these companies to go bust. December is a crucial month for many of these companies. & # 39;
Greenwich Council Chairman Danny Thorpe was accused of "appalling lack of leadership" after he announced the decision to close schools on Twitter last night, fearing the capital's 20 other Labor boroughs would follow suit after he argued had cases "escalate extremely quickly". .
His statement said: “I was informed today by colleagues from Public Health England that the Greenwich pandemic is now showing signs that we are in a period of exponential growth that requires immediate action.
& # 39; We now have the highest rate of infection in Greenwich than ever since March. For these reasons, I have asked all schools in Greenwich to close their premises on Monday evening and switch to online learning for the duration of the semester, with the exception of key worker children and children with special needs (just like the initial lockdown).
"It is imperative that everyone understand that this is NOT an opportunity to extend the Christmas party in any way, and I request that this be done to reduce the risk of transmission."
Millions in the north have been forced to apply severe restrictions for months in an attempt to reduce the number of coronavirus cases.
Under the old system, large parts of it were forced into the third tier, forcing restaurants and pubs to invite customers for a "full meal" with the drinks they ordered.
England was then placed on a four-week lockdown beginning November 5, during which shops, restaurants and pubs were forced to pull down their shutters after Boris Johnson pressed the panic button.
And when the draconian restrictions were lifted, most of the north of England was moved to a tightened Tier Three – where restaurants and pubs were still forced to only offer takeout.
Public Health England data has shown that infections in the area were already declining before the lockdown and continue to fall under Tier 3 measures that were subsequently imposed.
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