Is Cumbria on the brink of Tier Four?


More than 90 per cent of councils in England saw their coronavirus outbreaks grow before Christmas, according to official figures that suggest Cumbria could be next area to be plunged into Tier Four when No10 shakes up its local lockdown policies this week.

Around 24million people are already living under the draconian stay-at-home orders, with ministers slapping the strict measures on London, the South East and East to control rapidly growing Covid outbreaks.

But millions more face being hit with the toughest curbs when officials review the existing four-tier system on Wednesday, with the speed of growth and overall infection rate being two of the key criteria health chiefs use to decide on the whack-a-mole strategy.

Tier Two Cumbria is one area that could find itself in the firing line, with three of the county’s six boroughs seeing their Covid infection rate – the number of new cases per 100,000 people – double in size during the week ending December 22.

Department of Health statistics show Eden, home to around 50,000 people, had a rate of 422.5 during the most recent week data is available for – up from 200.9 in the previous seven-day spell. It stood at 41.3 at the start of the month.

It means the borough, which includes Penrith, recorded more confirmed Covid cases for the size of its population than several councils already placed under Tier Four, including parts of Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

Allerdale (163.7) and Copeland (64.5) also saw outbreaks double in size over the same time-frame. However, the latter Cumbrian borough still has England’s lowest coronavirus infection rate. 

And Barrow-in-Furness – another part of the county – was one of just 27 areas that recorded fewer cases week-on-week. England’s 288 other boroughs saw their outbreaks stay stable or grow, with 35 authorities seeing infections double over the same duration.

Local health bosses fear the rapid growth in cases across parts of the county, which borders Scotland, is being driven by the same coronavirus mutation that spread rapidly across the Home Counties.

No10’s top scientists have already admitted they cannot control the spread of a highly-contagious mutation that spread like wildfire across the south and effectively cancelled Christmas for a third of the country.

It comes as Michael Gove today refused to rule out the gloomy prospect of No10 placing all of England into Tier Four, which effectively bans residents from leaving their home.

Millions more Britons face being plunged into Tier 4 this week as the mutant Covid-19 strain continues to spread across the country

Millions more Britons face being plunged into Tier 4 this week as the mutant Covid-19 strain continues to spread across the country 

Department of Health statistics show 18,227 Covid-infected patients were being cared for in hospitals across the nation on Christmas Eve - a 15 per cent rise in a week. Top officials say the highly infectious strain spreading rapidly across the country is to blame. For comparison, April 12 was the busiest day of the pandemic so far for hospitals in England, when 18,974 patients were occupying beds

Department of Health statistics show 18,227 Covid-infected patients were being cared for in hospitals across the nation on Christmas Eve – a 15 per cent rise in a week. Top officials say the highly infectious strain spreading rapidly across the country is to blame. For comparison, April 12 was the busiest day of the pandemic so far for hospitals in England, when 18,974 patients were occupying beds

The total number of patients in hospital with the virus is likely to exceed the peak from the first wave, with 21,286 coronavirus patients being treated on December 22 - the most recent day data is available for. In comparison, the figure on April 12 was 21,683

The total number of patients in hospital with the virus is likely to exceed the peak from the first wave, with 21,286 coronavirus patients being treated on December 22 – the most recent day data is available for. In comparison, the figure on April 12 was 21,683

Data shows how daily Covid admissions to to hospitals across the UK have risen since the end of November, after they dipped briefly because of England's national lockdown

Data shows how daily Covid admissions to to hospitals across the UK have risen since the end of November, after they dipped briefly because of England’s national lockdown

Hospitals in England ‘on track’ to have 20,000 Covid patients by New Year’s Eve 

Hospitals in England are hurtling towards having 20,000 coronavirus patients who need NHS treatment on New Year’s Eve, according to dire projections that will bolster calls for No10 to introduce another draconian lockdown in 2021.

Department of Health statistics show 18,227 Covid-infected patients were being cared for in hospitals across the nation on Christmas Eve – a 15 per cent rise in a week. Top officials say a highly infectious strain spreading rapidly across the country is to blame.  

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For comparison, April 12 was the busiest day of the pandemic so far for hospitals in England, when 18,974 patients were occupying beds.

The Health Service Journal, a trade publication aimed at health bosses, has calculated that the number of Covid patients is rising by around 250 each day, meaning NHS England is ‘on course to exceed the first wave in the next few days and, possibly, top 20,000 on New Year’s Eve’. 

Doctors fear the NHS could be ‘overwhelmed’ within days, with frontline medics in London describing hospitals as resembling war zones. And in chaotic scenes reminiscent of the darkest days of the first wave of Covid, hospitals in England have been urged to free up every possible bed ahead of the expected spike in patients.

Health bosses today insisted health service would ‘cope’ with the surge in patients, which will inevitably begin to ease over the next fortnight when the effects of the brutal Tier Four restrictions kick in.  

The Cabinet Office minister told BBC Breakfast: ‘We review which tiers parts of the country should be in on the basis of scientific evidence.

‘The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will be making a recommendation to ministers, but I can’t pre-empt that because it obviously has to be a judgment based on the medical situation.’

But he warned the NHS is ‘under pressure’ and added ‘these are difficult months ahead’.

Mr Gove’s comments come amid fears hospitals in England are hurtling towards having 20,000 coronavirus patients needing treatment on New Year’s Eve.

Department of Health statistics show 18,227 Covid-infected patients were being cared for in hospitals across the nation on Christmas Eve – a 15 per cent rise in a week. Top officials say the highly infectious strain spreading rapidly across the country is to blame.

For comparison, April 12 was the busiest day of the pandemic so far for hospitals in England, when 18,974 patients were occupying beds.

The Health Service Journal, a trade publication aimed at health bosses, has calculated that the number of Covid patients is rising by around 250 each day, meaning NHS England is ‘on course to exceed the first wave in the next few days and, possibly, top 20,000 on New Year’s Eve’.

Doctors fear the NHS could be ‘overwhelmed’ within days, with frontline medics in London describing hospitals as resembling war zones.

And in chaotic scenes reminiscent of the darkest days of the first wave of Covid, hospitals in England have been urged to free up every possible bed ahead of the expected spike in patients.

Boris Johnson promised the tier allocation would be based on ‘common sense’, with the JBC – a Whitehall body that decides the whack-a-mole strategy – using a set of five criteria to decide which areas need the harshest restrictions.

This includes the overall infection rate for each area, the number of cases in the over-60s, and the speed at which the outbreak is growing or shrinking.

Officials also look at the test positivity rate – the number of confirmed infections for every 100 tests taken – and the pressure on local hospitals.

How will government decide what Tiers areas are put into? 

Boris Johnson has promised to base Tier allocation on ‘common sense’, and the government’s ‘Winter Plan’ set out a series of metrics that will be used. They are:

  • Case detection rates in all age groups;
  • Case detection rates in the over 60s;
  • The rate at which cases are rising or falling;
  • Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken); and
  • Pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy.

However, there are no specific numerical trigger points, and the document added that there will be ‘some flexibility to weight these indicators against each other as the context demands’. 

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‘For example, hospital capacity in a given area will need to be considered in the light of the capacity in neighbouring areas and the feasibility of moving patients,’ the document said. 

‘Case detection rates will need to be weighted against whether the spread of the virus appears to be localised to particular communities.’ 

MailOnline analysed the data before Christmas, which suggested that swathes of Sussex, Hampshire and Oxfordshire would be the next areas to be hit by Tier Four restrictions before ministers ramped up restrictions in the area on Boxing Day.

The same set of data – taking into account the most up-to-date figures – suggests that most areas with the biggest outbreaks are already under the toughest curbs.

But the Department of Health statistics show 35 local authorities saw cases double in the week ending December 22.

And the three areas that saw their coronavirus infection rates grow the quickest – Isle of Wight (up 305.1 per cent), Copeland (up 193.2 per cent) and Herefordshire (up 171.8 per cent) – were all in Tier Two or Three.

Department of Health statistics also show that only 27 of 315 authorities in England – roughly 8.6 per cent – saw their weekly infection rate drop in the seven-day spell ending December 22.

This included Thanet, Swale and Dover – three boroughs of Kent that have been living under the harshest restrictions ever since England’s national lockdown ended on December 2.

It comes as health bosses today insisted the health service would ‘cope’ with the surge in patients, which will inevitably begin to ease over the next fortnight when the effects of the brutal Tier Four restrictions kick in. 

But Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, conceded there would be a ‘cost’ to pay, hinting that non-urgent treatment will have to be sacrificed once again. 

Thousands of patients were turfed out of hospital beds in the first wave to make room for an expected explosion in Covid admissions, which has left patients facing a huge backlog in getting their cancelled or postponed treatment.

NHS England data shows hospitals are still quieter than they were last winter, with just 88.6 per cent of available beds occupied in the week ending December 20, on average. 

But health chiefs say the statistics don’t reveal the extra strain posed by Covid, which has led to segregated wards, medics constantly using PPE and staff having to self-isolate. A lack of staff mean most of the Government’s mothballed Nightingale hospitals – built to give the NHS extra breathing room – are lying empty.

REVEALED: THE AREAS WITH THE HIGHEST CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS IN ENGLAND, FOR THE WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 22
LOCAL AUTHORITY INFECTION RATE – WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 22 LOCAL AUTHORITY INFECTION RATE – WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 22 LOCAL AUTHORITY INFECTION RATE – WEEK ENDING DECEMBER 22
Brentwood 1477.5 Mole Valley 384 Doncaster 215.5
Epping Forest 1455.7 Guildford 383.9 Fenland 215
Thurrock 1373.7 Rugby 379.1 Hinckley and Bosworth 214.8
Havering 1305.7 Lincoln 374.6 Charnwood 214.2
Castle Point 1286.8 Mid Sussex 368.8 Wyre Forest 213.2
Southend-on-Sea 1147.8 Oxford 363.4 East Northamptonshire 212.6
Basildon 1147.4 South Northamptonshire 357.7 Rochdale 212.2
Redbridge 1143.8 Oadby and Wigston 356 Salford 209.4
Rochford 1112.5 Northampton 355.3 Melton 208.9
Bexley 1112 Babergh 354.2 South Holland 208.4
Barking and Dagenham 1098.1 Tendring 352.1 Horsham 205.9
Hastings 1097.5 West Berkshire 340.8 Manchester 205.5
Medway 1054 Ribble Valley 338.3 Gosport 205.1
Broxbourne 1040.3 East Staffordshire 337.4 North Somerset 205.1
Tower Hamlets 1006.9 Waverley 334.1 South Ribble 204.9
Harlow 976.3 Wellingborough 333.7 East Cambridgeshire 204.8
Gravesham 966.9 North Hertfordshire 329.4 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 204.4
Waltham Forest 955.7 Blackburn with Darwen 328 Eastleigh 203.6
Enfield 940.1 Norwich 325.8 Lancaster 203.4
Dartford 936.9 Sandwell 325.5 Barnsley 202.5
Newham 918.9 Southampton 313.2 North Warwickshire 202.3
Bromley 885.5 Birmingham 312.2 Corby 202.2
Milton Keynes 866.2 Gedling 311.3 Gateshead 201.9
Chelmsford 852.1 Leicester 309.1 Wychavon 200.1
Ashford 846.7 West Lindsey 308.4 North East Derbyshire 199.1
Hertsmere 840.6 Amber Valley 305.9 Stroud 198.4
Hackney and City of London 833.1 Stoke-on-Trent 304.6 Broxtowe 198.2
Braintree 819.1 South Kesteven 304 Sunderland 197.7
Haringey 818.5 Chiltern 301.9 Chorley 196.3
Swale 813.6 Brighton and Hove 290.8 York 196.1
Merton 798.4 Walsall 289.7 West Devon 195.4
Croydon 783 Dudley 289.5 Northumberland 194.8
Wandsworth 781.1 Gloucester 288.9 Liverpool 194
Lambeth 776.6 Arun 286.8 Chesterfield 192.6
Maidstone 774 South Oxfordshire 286.5 Halton 192.4
Folkestone and Hythe 762.9 Ipswich 285.6 Tewkesbury 191.5
Southwark 758.7 King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 285.4 North Lincolnshire 191
Greenwich 757.8 Staffordshire Moorlands 283.4 Wirral 190.7
Three Rivers 750.1 Carlisle 283.4 South Gloucestershire 190.1
Sutton 726.4 Broadland 282.1 Huntingdonshire 189.4
Rother 717.1 Warrington 281.9 Bristol, City of 189.3
Hillingdon 713.3 Ashfield 281.4 St. Helens 188.3
Barnet 712.9 Hart 280.2 Oldham 188.1
Watford 703.1 Hyndburn 280.1 Stockport 186.1
Lewisham 702.7 Cannock Chase 279.9 Mendip 186
Hounslow 701.6 South Derbyshire 279.7 South Lakeland 184.6
Dover 698.4 Bromsgrove 277.3 Isle of Wight 182.7
Tonbridge and Malling 691.6 East Hampshire 273.1 Mid Suffolk 181.9
Harrow 686 Stafford 268.1 Stratford-on-Avon 181.4
Maldon 685.4 Cambridge 265.2 East Suffolk 180.8
Islington 678 Derby 262.3 Herefordshire, County of 180.5
Sevenoaks 674.1 South Tyneside 261.6 West Lancashire 180.2
Canterbury 646.9 Kingston upon Hull, City of 261.4 Leeds 180.2
Spelthorne 639 Nuneaton and Bedworth 261 North Devon 180.1
Hammersmith and Fulham 637.9 Preston 259.9 South Somerset 178.8
Brent 635.9 South Cambridgeshire 259 Worcester 178.8
Tandridge 626.4 Daventry 258.3 Derbyshire Dales 178.4
Kingston upon Thames 617.4 South Staffordshire 257.9 Hambleton 178
South Bucks 609 Fareham 256.4 Bradford 177.3
Ealing 603.6 Solihull 255.6 Wakefield 175.7
Epsom and Ewell 592.9 Forest of Dean 254.6 Wigan 174
Rushmoor 580.3 West Suffolk 251.9 East Riding of Yorkshire 173.5
Richmond upon Thames 579.2 Bassetlaw 251.2 Erewash 173.4
Woking 574.4 Sedgemoor 250 Knowsley 173
Thanet 573.6 North Kesteven 249.8 Kirklees 171.7
Luton 571.2 Bolsover 249.5 Sheffield 170.6
Slough 567.7 Coventry 248.4 Cheltenham 166.8
Bedford 560.9 Lichfield 248.2 Calderdale 166.5
Elmbridge 557.8 Mansfield 247.9 Fylde 164.6
Bracknell Forest 554.1 Basingstoke and Deane 246.3 Blackpool 164.2
Tunbridge Wells 547.5 County Durham 245.8 Telford and Wrekin 164
St Albans 527.4 Middlesbrough 245.4 Allerdale 163.7
Aylesbury Vale 512.3 West Oxfordshire 244 Exeter 163.6
Uttlesford 511.6 South Norfolk 243.5 Mid Devon 162.8
Surrey Heath 509.5 Harborough 242 Wyre 162.4
Kensington and Chelsea 508.6 Scarborough 241.8 Selby 162.2
East Hertfordshire 506.9 Cheshire West and Chester 241.6 Bolton 158.6
Central Bedfordshire 504.1 Newcastle-under-Lyme 238.7 Tameside 158.5
Camden 502.9 Warwick 237.9 Sefton 157.4
Westminster 502.1 Worthing 237.9 Bath and North East Somerset 156.2
Reigate and Banstead 501.5 Rushcliffe 236.6 North Tyneside 154.4
Burnley 490.3 Blaby 235.4 Richmondshire 152.6
Wycombe 490 Darlington 235 Wiltshire 149.2
Stevenage 489.5 Redditch 234.6 High Peak 148.9
Dacorum 484.6 Nottingham 234 East Devon 142.9
Havant 476.2 Somerset West and Taunton 234 East Lindsey 141.1
Windsor and Maidenhead 468.9 Chichester 232 Rutland 137.8
Wealden 462.6 Cheshire East 231.7 Plymouth 136.6
Reading 461.1 Stockton-on-Tees 231.1 Newcastle upon Tyne 135.7
Cherwell 457.8 Great Yarmouth 230.5 New Forest 132.7
Welwyn Hatfield 440.5 Swindon 230.4 Craven 131.3
Eastbourne 439.5 Vale of White Horse 230.1 Redcar and Cleveland 126.9
Runnymede 436.1 Kettering 228 Teignbridge 125.2
Portsmouth 430 Bury 225.7 Ryedale 121
Pendle 426.7 Newark and Sherwood 224.6 Torridge 115.7
Peterborough 423.2 Tamworth 224.3 Dorset 111.5
Eden 422.5 Test Valley 224.3 North East Lincolnshire 106.5
Lewes 409.6 Breckland 223.6 Malvern Hills 105.5
Crawley 407.4 Winchester 223.5 Shropshire 100.9
Wokingham 402.1 Trafford 221.2 Harrogate 98.2
Colchester 402.1 North West Leicestershire 220.1 South Hams 97.7
Adur 396.6 Cotswold 219.2 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 90.4
Boston 396.2 Rotherham 218.5 Barrow-in-Furness 85
Wolverhampton 388.1 North Norfolk 218.4 Torbay 79.3
Hartlepool 385.4 Rossendale 218.2 Copeland 64.5
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