Covid cases UK: the areas where coronavirus rates are highest as new hotspot emerges
Of the 377 local areas in the UK, a total of 137 (36%) have seen a week-on-week rise in coronavirus rates, with Wales now the worst area affected.
Neath Port Talbot continues to have the highest rate in the country, closely followed by Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
However, rates have been falling in 238 (63%) of local areas, boosting hopes that a winter lockdown will not be necessary this year to keep the virus under control.
A leading health expert has suggested that Covid-19 could resemble the common cold by spring next year as immunity to the virus continues to build thanks to the vaccination rollout and exposure.
Professor Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said the country is now “over the worst” and things “should be fine” once winter has passed, adding that there was continued exposure to the virus even in people who are vaccinated.
His comments come after Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, whose work led to the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said Covid-19 will weaken over time and will eventually become like all other seasonal coronaviruses.
Speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine webinar, she said: “We normally see that viruses become less virulent as they circulate more easily and there is no reason to think we will have a more virulent version of Sars-CoV-2.
“We tend to see slow genetic drift of the virus and there will be gradual immunity developing in the population as there is to all the other seasonal coronaviruses.”
Seasonal coronaviruses cause colds, and Dame Sarah said: “Eventually Sars-CoV-2 will become one of those.”
With the UK now officially in the autumn season underway, here’s a look at how Covid-19 rates currently compare across the country. Listed are the 15 areas with the highest coronavirus case rates right now, based on the latest data up to 18 September. Images are for illustrative purposes only.