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New coronavirus maps show stark north-south divide amid fears of national lockdown

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These new maps reveal the coronavirus divide between the North and South of England amid fresh warnings of a second national lockdown.

One map shows darker shades of purple across the North, which has the highest rates of new cases of Covid-19, while much of the South is shown in lighter shades, suggesting the number of cases is below average.

A second map reveals rates are climbing much faster in the North than the South.

Some local authorities in the North had 168.95 to 263.20 new cases per 100,000 people. In the South, most places had much lower rates of zero to 22.94 in the week up to September 23.

Boroughs in London and parts of the Home Counties were the worst-affected regions in the South.

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The 10 local authorities with the worst rates are all in the North. Of those with the lowest rates, eight are in the South.

The average infection rate for England as a whole was 35.7 cases per 100,000.

The latest Government data shows the average number of positive tests every day is at least twice as high in the North West than any other region.

The North West is averaging 1,595 new cases every day, compared to 150 in the South West in the seven days up to September 23.

The average in the North West is almost double that of the next highest total (663), which was in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The West Midlands was averaging 564 new cases per day, and the North East 551.

The North West’s average was more than three times that of London (471), and much higher than those in the East Midlands (274), South East (227) and East of England (185).

Local lockdown restrictions are in place across much of northern England. Tough new measures were announced for Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, acknowledged there was a “heavy concentration” particularly in the North West, the North East and parts of the Midlands.

Speaking at Wednesday’s briefing with Boris Johnson, he told reporters: “There’s a general increase (in infection rates) across the whole of England and the same is also true in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland… but a very rapid increase in particular areas.

“Again, particularly in the North East, North West and areas of the Midlands, (but) not exclusively.”

The Prime Minister warned of second “more costly” national lockdown if the virus continues to spread rapidly, and urged Britons to take precautions to protect themselves and the NHS.

The number of people in hospital in England is rising, particularly in hotspots, although the figures are at a much lower level than the beginning of April.

Almost 200 people had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus in the North West of England in the last week, according to the Government’s Covid-19 dashboard.

Professor Whitty said: “We are pointing out that the direction of travel for both hospitals and intensive care is going in the wrong direction, particularly in these areas that have seen rapid increases in cases.”

There had been a “significant uptick” in the number of people being admitted to intensive care, especially in the North East and North West of England but also in London.

Although the level of cases remained far below the NHS intensive care capacity, it was “definitely heading the wrong way”.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday that local restrictions that were previously imposed in the North East and North West are being extended to Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

Liverpool’s current rate is 268 new cases per 100,000 people.

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