OLDHAM is now the worst affected area in England for the coronavirus – three new places have been added to the watch list.
The latest government data shows there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases in the city of Greater Manchester over the past week.
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Oldham recorded 145 new Covid-19 infections in the seven days leading up to August 9 – equivalent to 61 cases per 100,000 population.
That’s higher than previous Leicester hotspots, which returned to lockdown last month, and Blackburn with Darwen – where harsh measures have also been reintroduced.
The next most affected area is Pendle with a weekly increase of 58.6 cases per 100,000 population and Blackburn where there have been 43 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days.
New hot spots
It comes as three locations were added to the coronavirus ‘watch list’ on Friday – Preston in the northwest, as well as Swindon and Bedford in the south.
The city of Preston was added to the list after the rate of new Covid cases fell from 20.3 per 100,000 people in the week ending July 27 to 32.8 in the week ending August 3.
Meanwhile, a Tesco in Swindon was hit by a coronavirus outbreak over the weekend with a number of employees testing positive for the bug.
It came as Public Health England highlighted the city of Wiltshire as an ‘area of concern’ after 46.8 cases per 100,000 population were recorded in the latest weekly data.
Bedford was also added to the PES ‘watchlist’ after Covid cases soared to 22.7 per 100,000 people.
Last week, Greater Manchester and parts of eastern Lancashire and West Yorkshire were all returned to lockdown after a surge in new cases.
People living in sensitive areas can no longer meet inside homes, private gardens or any other indoor space.
They must follow these rules even when visiting people in areas without epidemics.
People can still meet other people in groups of up to 6 people, or 2 households, in outdoor public places.
Areas that are already locked will not be able to see the relaxed restrictions as infection rates still do not decrease.
Lancashire Director of Public Health Sakthi Karunanithi has blamed the increase in coronavirus cases on people mixing with other households in pubs, as well as in their homes.
A spike in cases in Preston was affecting people of South Asian and white ethnicity – especially those living in poor socio-economic conditions, he said.
He said: “I want to pay special attention to indoor spaces, especially pubs, where a large number of people mix between households.
“It’s a worrying pattern that we really need to avoid. ”
Mr Karunanithi said the “two main reasons” for the increase in infections were people meeting others in their homes and households meeting in places such as pubs.
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He added: “These two behaviors are essential against which we try to protect people. Do not meet members of other households in pubs and clubs. ”
Rotherham, in South Yorkshire, has been taken off the watch list for places with outbreaks thanks to a drop in cases.
The government’s watchlist examines infection rates in areas of concern where authorities can work with local authorities to try to reduce cases and avoid local lockdowns.