Coronavirus cases in the UK continued to surge on Friday, as new local lockdowns were announced across the country.
A further 4,322 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported – the highest daily figure since May – bringing the total number above 385,000.
New daily cases consistently reached above 3,000 this week, having fallen to around 500 in July. At its peak in April, the UK was recording around 5,000 cases per day.
Outbreaks in areas in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have fuelled the latest spike in Covid-19 cases, prompting the government to reintroduce containment measures for close to 13.5 million people throughout the country.
The latest government figures reveal that several other areas around the country are also seeing an uptick in new cases, according to The Independent’s analysis.
Areas in the north of England have seen the highest infection rates over the last seven days, with Blackburn, Warrington, Greater Manchester and Merseyside all seeing more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people.
Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales also saw case numbers rise above 100, while Halton, Tyne and Wear and Lancashire saw figures increase significantly.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said local restrictions were part of the government’s approach of “targeted interventions” but did not rule out the possibility of another nation-wide lockdown. He said: “A national lockdown is the last line of defence."
The UK is one of several European countries experiencing a severe second wave of the deadly virus, with both France and Spain experiencing new daily records in recent days.
While the UK was behind those countries to see infections initially spread, its first wave turned out to be more serious in terms of both cumulative case numbers and deaths.
A similar pattern appears to be occurring for the second wave, with the UK once again behind France and Spain. If the UK mirrors the trends of the other two countries, the second wave could be even greater than the first.
The European head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Hans Kluge, warned on Thursday that many countries were “going into a worsening situation” as a result of strict lockdowns lifting and public resistance to face masks and other measures needed to contain the pandemic.
“At the moment… we see a fatigue and resistance in the behaviour that is helpful in fighting the virus,” he said.
“In the spring and early summer, we were able to see the impact of strict lockdown measures. Our efforts, our sacrifices paid off. In June, cases hit an all-time low. The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.”