POPULAR UK holiday destinations such as Devon, Cornwall and Dorset will be the hardest hit by a second wave of coronavirus, a study has revealed.
Scientists fear that the South West stay-cation spots are likely to be the first to endure the effects of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
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PhD student Yang Liu, from the University of Cambridge, calculated which of the nine regions in England were most likely to see a return of the virus before the end of the summer months.
The researchers estimated the natural R rate in each region.
The R rate is the average number of people each coronavirus patients infects.
It was the highest in London, the South West and the South East.
Mr Liu and his colleague’s estimations of the R rate were made by “reconstructing” the transmission dynamics of the spread int he virus in each region using the daily number of confirmed cases between February 27 and May 31, collected by Public Health England.
The team assumed the R rate would stay constant after May 31, given that it was unlikely to decrease when lockdown restrictions were eased.
Because the South West’s R was high on 31 May, it will likely have a relatively more than 100 people.
Cambridge University researchers say the South West could face 350 new cases a day at the end of July.
This number would be 40 per cent higher than during the height of the pandemic.
The scientists involved in the paper wrote: “While the UK government has been considering lifting some control measures to restore the economy, special attention should be paid to the regions with the risk of second-wave outbreak.”
Government advisers say only three per cent of the rural region’s population has caught the virus since the outbreak began in March.
This is nowhere near the 60 per cent of the population required for herd immunity.
With the virus still in circulation, locals are terrified that tourists will bring the infection with them to the area.
Experts say that the South West of England has a high proportion of elderly people, who face a higher risk of dying if they catch the virus.
Despite the numbers of new cases declining across the UK over the past few weeks, the Office for National Statistics warned that the decline in new cases had “levelled off”.
An estimated 3,500 people are still becoming infected every single day in England alone, only a slight reduction from the 3,800 people per day in mid-June.
This means that the virus is still spreading at a fast and deadly rate, posing a risk of spiralling out of control causing spikes post-lockdown.