London ball

Thailand re-establishes quarantine for tourists; Moderna could develop an Omicron booster “within a few weeks”

The areas include two-thirds of the authorities in London, more than half in the south-east of England and almost half in the east of England.

However, most of the rest of the country has yet to hit record highs, with only a few areas in the north and west showing rates at an all time high.

The figures, which were compiled by the PA News Agency, show that:

• 21 of London’s 32 local authorities now have record Covid-19 case rates, with the capital accounting for the UK’s 10 highest rates and 20 of the top 25.

• Four areas of London have rates above 2,000 cases per 100,000 population: Lambeth (2,461.4), Wandsworth (2,361.9), Hackney and City of London (2,096.8) and Southwark (2,064, 0)

• In the south-east of England, 37 of the 64 local authorities are now recording record rates, led by Elmbridge (1,384.7), Reigate and Banstead (1,317.3) and Epsom and Ewell (1,271.6 ), all located in Surrey.

• 21 of 45 local authorities in eastern England have record case rates, including St Albans (1311.3) and Cambridge (1177.0).

However, these are not the highest rates in the region – Brentwood (1,460.3) and Thurrock (1,342.2) in Essex are higher, although this is slightly below the record for both regions. , which was established during the second wave of the virus last winter.

• 12 of the 40 East Midlands regions hit record highs, led by South Northamptonshire (970.8), Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire (917.8) and Charnwood in Leicestershire (916.6)

All figures are for the seven days leading up to December 16, as data for more recent days is still incomplete.

In total, 102 of the UK’s 377 local authorities (27%) now have their highest rates of Covid-19 cases since mass tests were rolled out across the country in May and June 2020.

Figures for case rates in the first months of the pandemic are not directly comparable, as only a small number of people were tested, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Of the 102 areas, only 11 lie outside the South and East: six in the North West of England (Bury, Cheshire West and Chester, Manchester, Salford, Stockport and Trafford); three in Scotland (East Lothian, Edinburgh and West Lothian); one in Northern Ireland (Ards and North Down); and one in the West Midlands (Newcastle-under-Lyme).

The contrast between south and east and north and west reflects how the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread in recent weeks – in particular, how London was the first region in the UK where Omicron has become the dominant variant of the virus.

Although nine in ten local authorities in the UK are seeing week-over-week rate increases, most parts of the north and west of the country have yet to reach levels seen in the second wave of the virus.

But that could change in the days and weeks to come, once Omicron becomes the dominant variant in all regions of the country.