Hundreds of neighbourhoods across the country recorded close to zero cases last week.
Numbers are so low in some areas that data has been ‘suppressed’ by Public Health England to avoid the few positive cases being named and shamed on social media.
Analysis by The Daily Telegraph shows that 971 of 6,791 local areas in England were marked as ‘suppressed’ in the week up to February 23 after recording ‘fewer than three cases’.
Around 7.3 million people live in those areas, or 13% of the population.
They include large parts of Cornwall, Devon and Wiltshire, but also parts of London such as Notting Hill West, Pimlico, Balham and Hampstead Town.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Tory MP for the Cotswolds, told the newspaper that the slides shown at Downing Street briefings should be made ‘clearer’ to show that the virus has almost vanished in some regions.
He said: ‘I think there should be as much transparency as possible.’
Heat maps shown at the press conferences usually depict the situation in each of the 315 lower-tier local authorities, but case rates can vary hugely within those areas.
The data shows that 11 of the 100 ‘Middle-layer Super Output Areas’ (MSOAs, a geographic hierarchy designed to improve the reporting of small area statistics) that recorded the highest number of cases during the peak of the second wave were marked as ‘suppressed’ last week, including the rural area around Waltham Abbey in Essex.
However, it also reveals worrying spikes in infections, particularly in the Midlands and along the east and west coasts.
The government warned that one in five local authority areas across the UK had experienced a rise in coronavirus cases in the past week.
In Underhill & the Grove, Dorset, case rates shot up from 364 per 100,000 in the week ending February 16 to 877 per 100,000 in the seven days to February 24.
Figures increased from 299 per 100,000 to 1,252 in Wetherby East & Thorp Arch, Leeds, over the same period.
Eight out of ten of England’s Covid-19 hotspots have prisons located within them.
The highest rate of infection was located around a prison in Leeds, and was double that recorded in the worst non-prison area.
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