Four areas in England are battling Covid infection rates far higher than the rest of the country according to the latest data, as experts warn deprived inner-city populations are worst-hit.
While most of the UK is enjoying a drop in numbers, figures now show a dramatic contrast in rates between different regions in England.
It comes as Brits make the most of the government’s latest easing of lockdown restriction with pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops open for business.
Experts have said the data shows that deprived inner-city areas with the lowest vaccine take-up remain the worst-hit by the virus.
According to analysis by The Times, separate regions also differ drastically in their success at curbing the spread with four
Seven in 10 Brits are reportedly living in areas where just two, one, or zero cases were reported last week.
But in Manchester, Slough, Kettering and Leicester, 75% of the population live in places which recorded more than three new coronavirus infections.
Parts of Sheffield and Bradford which were hardest hit last summer are also still struggling to curb infection rates, according to scientists.
85% of people in the South West live in areas with fewer than three cases reported last week, compared to just 43% in Yorkshire and Humber.
Professor Alastair Grant of the University of East Anglia told the paper: “The virus is retreating to small areas, many of which are deprived inner-city areas where rates remained high last summer — Leicester, Bradford, Sheffield etc.
“And these are often areas where vaccination rates are low.”
Professor Mark Jit, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who sits on the government’s Spi-M panel within SAGE said “some parts” of the country were suffering outbreaks.
The disease modeller urged people to stay vigilant despite the continued success of the rollout he as he warned the cases could “rapidly spread” to other areas.
The figures come as lockdown-weary Brits gear up for the next stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap on 17 May.
The next relaxation of rules is hoped to see the opening of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues for indoor service.
Friends and family will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors and six people or two households will be allowed to socialise indoors under the current plans.
Foreign holidays are also back on the cards with ministers currently considering how vaccine passports might work as Covid safety certificates in the UK by June.
A new PHE study also offered hope as it found that a single dose of the Covid jab could cut transmission by up to half.
The research found that people given a single dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines – and who became infected at least three weeks later – were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to people living in their homes.
One in four UK adults are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, after a record number of second doses were delivered in the past week.
Seven in 10 adults in private households in England are also likely to have antibodies against the bug now, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).