The UK now has 17 coronavirus hotspots where infection rates are above 100 per 100,000 people, new data show.
The government’s latest COVID-19 figures, released on Wednesday afternoon, demonstrate the continued spread of the more transmissible Indian variant, which has been renamed the “Delta” variant by the World Health Organization.
The statistics will prompt further doubts over Boris Johnson’s plan to end England’s lockdown on 21 June, though the prime minister insisted on Wednesday that this can still happen.
In the seven days up to Friday, the latest period for which figures are available, Blackburn with Darwen had the UK’s highest case rate of 436.2 per 100,000.
A further 16 council areas had infection rates of more than 100 per 100,000. A full list of those areas can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
Of England’s council areas, five had a case rate of more than 100 per 100,000 seven days ago. It is now 13.
Meanwhile, there were 4,330 confirmed new cases in the UK on Wednesday. Daily case numbers have been above 3,000 for the past eight days due to the spread of the Delta variant.
These data highlight why the 21 June target date for unlocking in England is in doubt.
The state of infection numbers and variants of concern are two of the government’s “four tests” when considering each stage of unlocking. Some senior advisers have this week called for the end of lockdown to be delayed.
Johnson, however, has once again repeated his “nothing in the data” mantra in another show of optimism.
“I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can’t go ahead with step four of the opening on 21 June,” the PM said.“But we’ve got to be so cautious because there’s no question… data on infection rates is showing an increase. We always knew that was going to happen, we always said the unlocking steps we have taken would lead to increases in infection.