NEW infection rate data shows the latest regional hotspots – offering a first hint at the new Covid tiers.
Yorkshire and The Humber, the North West and the North East of England have the highest positivity rates, latest official figures show.
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The data from the Office for National Statistics has been published today ahead of the Health Secretary’s announcement later in Parliament.
Matt Hancock is due to set out which tier each local authority will fall under in a speech to the House of Commons at 11am.
The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels would be based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.
How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.
The ONS figures suggest that the number of people testing positive has fallen in the West Midlands, East of England, London, South East and the South West.
Figures are based on swab tests carried out between November 15 and November 21.
Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.
Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.
On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, with The Times reporting parts of eastern England and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria are expected to be allocated the lightest measures.
Meanwhile London was expected to go in Tier 2 along with the majority of the country.
Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.
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“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.
“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”
Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.