Newcastle upon Tyne has become the area of England with the highest rate of new cases of Covid-19, with the North East overtaking the North West as the nation’s main coronavirus hotspot, latest figures show.
A total of 2,012 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Newcastle in the seven days to June 30 – the equivalent of 664.4 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 382.1 one week earlier, and is the highest rate for Newcastle for almost eight months, beating the peak of the second wave in January.
Not since the start of October last year, when the return of university students prompted a sharp spike in coronavirus cases, has Newcastle recorded rates this high.
Other areas of north-east England are currently seeing their highest rate of new cases since comparable figures began last summer, when mass testing was first introduced across the UK.
These include South Tyneside (604.1), Gateshead (565.2), County Durham (551.2) and North Tyneside (547.3), according to analysis by the PA news agency.
Six of the top 10 highest rates in England are in north-east England – a major turnaround from just two weeks ago, when the entire top 10 were areas in north-west England.
Rates are still rising in almost all parts of the North West, however, along with nearly every local area in England, as the third wave of coronavirus cases continues to grow.
Of the 315 local authority areas in England, 312 saw a week-on-week rise in rates in the seven days to June 30, with only three seeing a fall.
Some 264 areas (84%) are now recording rates above 100 per 100,000 people – the highest proportion since the second week of February.
And while the North East is now the regional hotspot for the third wave, a handful of areas in other parts of the nation are seeing a sharp jump in cases.
Tamworth in Staffordshire currently has the second highest rate in England, for example, standing at 657.1 cases per 100,000 people, up week on week from 202.1.
Oxford has the fifth highest rate at 589.7, up from 114.8.
Further down the list, north-east Lincolnshire, in 12th place, has seen its rate jump from 260.1 to 518.9.
Overall, England’s national rate for Covid-19 cases now stands at 223.2 per 100,000 people – the highest since the start of February.
The surge in cases in the North East is starting to be reflected in the latest data for hospital admissions, with 39 people in hospital in mechanical ventilation beds across the combined region of north-east England and Yorkshire on July 2 – up from 26 one week earlier and the highest number since April 20.
This is still well below the region’s second-wave peak of 340 patients on ventilators, however.