It comes as rates of Covid-19 cases have started to drop in some of England’s largest cities, with the biggest increases now occurring in cities and suburbs, according to the latest figures.
Nottingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle are among the cities where the weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases rose rapidly at the end of September, coinciding with the start of the new academic term, but where levels are trending lower.
Rates have been falling for several days, suggesting they are on a downtrend rather than a temporary drop.
In Nottingham, the sliding weekly rate of cases peaked at 1,001.2 per 100,000 population during the seven days to October 8 – the highest of any local authority in England – but since then the number has been declining and it currently stands at 787.6.
Manchester’s current rate is 432.5, having peaked at 583.5 (in the seven days leading up to October 3); Sheffield’s rate is 396.7, down from 500.3 (seven days to October 7) while Newcastle is at 371.5, down from 553.8 (seven days to October 7).
All current rates are for the seven days through October 14.
Exeter, Leeds and Liverpool – all cities with large student populations – have also seen case rates drop in recent days.
The numbers suggest that the rapid spread of Covid-19 among areas with high student housing density appears to have stopped.
In contrast, the places in England with the highest growth in case rates are no longer big cities but a mix of towns and suburbs.
Areas with the largest week-over-week increase in latest seven-day rates include Gedling (from 216.3 to 385.9); Blackburn with Darwen (from 357.4 to 482.3); Barnsley (from 225.2 to 348.8); and Blackpool (from 220.9 to 326.3).
The largely rural borough of Charnwood in Leicestershire, which includes the town of Loughborough – home to Loughborough University – saw its rate drop from 153.9 to 288.9.
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One city – Bristol – has seen a noticeable jump in the latest figures, but its rate is still far lower than those recorded by companies like Nottingham and Manchester in recent weeks, at 205.9 from 99.9.
Overall, the numbers suggest that geographic hotspots for Covid-19 in England may have moved away from major cities and built-up areas that don’t necessarily have densely housed student populations – and that the virus is now spreading. increasingly through community infections rather than widely circulating in student housing.