Preston sees largest Covid case rate increase in England, as leader warns: 'Don't let your guard down'

Preston has seen the biggest increase in Covid rates in the country over the last week, according to new figures.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 9:58 pm

South Ribble was also in the top three areas of England with the largest leaps in case rates in the seven days to 14th January, based on Press Association analysis of data from Public Health England.

The figures, published on Monday evening, reflect the increase in the number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people.

Preston had seen the second largest increase just 24 hours earlier, with the startling stats prompting Preston City Council leader Matthew Brown to appeal to residents not to “let their guard down” - even before the city took the unwanted top spot.

A growing proportion of people were found to have Covid in Central Lancashire in the week to 14th January

However, the raw case rates for each of the two districts puts them outside the top 100 in England by that measure. The duo are not even the worst affected areas in Lancashire when considering the rates themselves, rather than the rises in them.

Preston saw an increase in infections of just over 20 percent over the week in question, with a total of 720 new cases identified.

South Ribble’s figures were up by a little under 18 percent – at 578 confirmed new cases.

For the week to 13th January, Chorley was also in the top ten areas with the biggest rate rises, but it had dropped down on the rolling seven days to 14th January.

Preston and South Ribble are among six out Lancashire’s 14 council areas registering an increased rate over the latter period - the others being Rossendale, Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde.

The rising trend in some parts of the county is in contrast to the national picture which has seen a fall in case rates across over 90 percent of council areas.

However, the declining rates nationally meant that the Central Lancashire districts had to achieve far lower increases in order to be pitched into the England top ten than would have been the case just a week earlier.

In the week to 7th January, the areas with the top three case rate increases in England had seen their figures more than double – as opposed to the 18-20 percent increase in Preston and South Ribble this week, which has had the same result of putting them in the upper reaches of the table showing the most significant spikes in infection rate.

Nevertheless, Cllr Brown says that the figures should serve as a timely reminder for residents to remain cautious.

“The latest increase in case numbers shows the continued danger posed by the virus and the need for all of us to keep playing our part to protect one another,” he said earlier on Monday.

“I understand the sacrifices everyone has made through what has been a very difficult year and the lengths residents and businesses have gone to protect our communities.

“However, we all must continue to play our part and get the basics right. We need to keep washing our hands, wearing a face covering and giving each other space as well as self-isolating for the full amount of time when asked to.

“With the roll out of the vaccine there is an end in sight and it is vital that we do not let our guard down now to keep protecting one another and our already stretched health services,” Cllr Brown said.

The average case rate across Lancashire in the week to 14th January stood at 525.1, up by over 40 from the week to 13th January and more than double the figure in the seven days to Christmas Day - and now also slightly above the latest England average for the week to 13th January of 520.1.

East Lancashire’s districts remain the worst-affected in the county for infections overall, with Burnley only just outside the top 20 nationally in terms of its case rate.

COVID RATE RISES IN CENTRAL LANCS

The rate of confirmed Covid cases per 100,000 people in the week to 14th January, compared to seven days earlier:

PRESTON – Highest increase in England – 503.1 (up 85.3 – 20.3 percent)

SOUTH RIBBLE – 3rd-highest increase in England – 521.7 (up 79.4 – 17.8 percent)

9 percent - proportion of England’s 315 local authorities with rising case rates

LANCASHIRE AVERAGE – 525.1

ENGLAND AVERAGE (week to 13th Jan) – 520.1

Source: PA/Public Health England