London now has highest infection rate in UK as tier 3 fears rise

New figures show London now has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK, as fears rise the capital will soon be put under tier three restrictions.

London had 191.8 cases per 100,000 people for the week of 30 November to 6 December – up from 158.1 per 100,000 the previous week, according to the weekly surveillance survey by the Office for National Statistics.

Public Health England’s latest data also shows that Covid-19 cases have increased in 24 of the city’s 32 boroughs.

Havering had the highest rates for the week ending 3 December at 346 per 100,000 people.

Infection rates have also risen in two other areas of England – from 116.2 to 147.2 in the east and from 142.2 to 160.8 in the south-east.

However, every other region of the country has recorded a week-on-week fall. The biggest fall has been seen in the West Midlands where the rate is down from 196.8 per 100,000 to 158.4.

Meanwhile, south-west England had the lowest rate of 77.3 – down from 91.2.

The news comes as health experts warn London should move into tier three as soon as possible or face a ‘terrible rise’ in cases over the Christmas period.

The tier system is due to be reviewed by the Government just over a week before Christmas on 16 December.

However, Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for north-west England, said ministers should make a decision ‘in the next 48 hours’.

He told The Guardian the situation is getting so bad, a ‘complete lockdown’ may be needed.

A spokesman for Mayor Sadiq Khan has also warned Londoners could see a ‘devastating’ rise in infections over winter if people do not follow tier two rules.

He said: ‘The number-one way to look out for our loved ones and support local businesses in this festive season is to follow the rules, and do all we can to avoid going back into tougher restrictions later this month or any time in the future.

‘If we begin to act like this virus has gone away, we could see a devastating further surge in cases at a time of year when our NHS is already under enough pressure.’

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson has reminded the public that the tier system is based on numerous factors.

These include how quickly case rates change, the number of infections among the over-60s, pressure on the NHS and ‘local circumstances’.

They added: ‘The government will review the tiering allocations every 14 days and areas will move up or down the tiers based on these indicators from local areas.’

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