Covid-19 rates drop below 50 cases per 100,000 in half of all local areas
By Ian Jones, PA
Covid-19 case rates have fallen below the symbolic level of 50 cases per 100,000 people in half of all local areas in the UK, new analysis shows.
It is a major turnaround from one month ago, when only six of the 380 local areas were reporting rates under 50 per 100,000.
A handful of areas are even recording rates that are now in single figures.
The steep fall suggests the various lockdowns in place across the country are continuing to play a key role in reducing the number of new reported cases of coronavirus.
The analysis, which has been compiled by the PA news agency, shows that for the seven days to March 5 a total of 190 out of 380 local authority areas in the UK recorded Covid-19 case rates below 50 per 100,000 people.
In England, these ranged from 49.7 in Dartford in Kent to 5.7 in South Hams in Devon.
A majority of local areas in Wales are now below 50 cases per 100,000 people, with Ceredigion recording a rate of just 9.6.
More than half of areas in Scotland are also below 50, including the Shetland Islands (4.4) and the Orkney Islands (no recent cases).
In Northern Ireland, two of the 11 local authority areas are now below 50: Newry, Mourne & Down (40.8) and Fermanagh & Omagh (33.2).
The highest rate anywhere in the UK is currently 149.2, for South Derbyshire.
One month earlier, in the seven days to February 5, the highest rate in the UK was 515.9 in Rutland.
At the peak of the second wave of cases, in the seven days to January 5, the highest rate in the UK was 1,635.5 in the London borough of Barking & Dagenham.
The current rate in Barking & Dagenham is just 56.8.
The steep downwards trend in the case rates for local areas is mirrored in the rates for the four UK nations, all of which have sunk to their lowest level since September last year.
Wales currently has the lowest rate among the four nations, with 42.8 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to March 5 – the lowest rate since the seven days to September 17.
England’s rate stands at 60.8, while in Northern Ireland is it 65.0.
For both nations this is the lowest rate since September 23.
In Scotland the rate is currently 62.9, the lowest since September 25.
All figures have been calculated by the PA news agency from the latest health agency data.