Coronavirus is “bubbling up” in up to 30 areas across the UK, Boris Johnson has warned.
“It’s absolutely vital as a country we continue to keep our focus and our discipline and that we don’t delude ourselves that somehow we’re out of the woods or that this is all over because it isn’t all over,” he warned.
The places with the highest case rates per 100,000 people according to NHS Digital’s latest data are Blackburn with Darwen (85.3), Leicester (57.7), Oldham (53.1), Bradford (44.9) and Trafford (39.3).
Behind them are Calderdale (32.4), Rochdale (30.9) and Sandwell (27.5) – which has set up its own contact-tracing system in a bid to contain outbreaks and out of frustration with the one run by Whitehall.
Mr Johnson also defended his government’s handling of the pandemic – which has seen England named the country with the highest excess death rate in Europe.
Speaking on a visit to north Yorkshire, he said there has been “a massive success now in reducing the numbers of those tragic deaths”.
Following news that the self-isolation period is being extended from seven to 10 days, Mr Johnson denied it would leave people confused.
All four of the UK nations’ chief medical officers had approved the rule change because of “strengthened” evidence there is a “real possibility” anyone with the virus is infectious for longer than previously thought.
Those who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive will still have to stay at home for the same amount of time as before – 14 days.
It aligns the UK closer with some other countries’ policies and those of the World Health Organisation, which says people should be in isolation for 10 days and then an additional three once they stop showing symptoms.
Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “worried” about another spike of coronavirus infections, telling Sky News there is a “second wave starting to roll across Europe”.