The 25 areas placed on Delta variant watchlist revealed – as strain ‘60% more infectious’

NINE places in the UK are seeing a concerning rise in cases likely driven by the Delta variant, as an epidemic in the young becomes clearer.

The rest of the 25 places on the ZOE Covid Symptom Study watchlist have all seen cases remain high and stable.

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The watchlist from ZOE Covid Symptom Study app. Stirling has the highest prevalence of cases, at over 800 per 100,000

Stirling, Manchester, Rochdale, Bolton, Kirklees, Lancashire, St Helens, Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire are those that saw Covid prevalence rise in the past week.

The Delta variant that originated in India is now dominant in the UK, making up three-quarters of new cases.

It has driven a surge in infections across the UK, coupled with the lifting of restrictions over the past few weeks.

Scientists’ best guess is that the Delta variant is 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha version which originated in Kent last winter.

The UK is the only nation in Europe seeing a dramatic rise in Covid cases, as Tim Spector OBE, the lead scientist on the ZOE COVID Study app, said: “The Covid-19 situation in the UK has rapidly changed from one of the best performing nations to a nation again struggling with rising cases.

“The rapid rise is likely down to two compounding factors; increased social interaction and a newly dominant variant that is much more transmissible.”

“It’s no surprise that people are becoming fatigued with social distancing after a long 15 months of restrictions, which will only encourage the spread.”

The city of Stirling, in central Scotland, has the highest number of people reporting Covid symptoms of all of the UK – nearly 840 per 100,000.

Local media has reported a huge outbreak of 80 cases related to a bar in the city centre in the past fortnight.

Bury and Manchester have the second and third highest level of active Covid cases.

Both areas (in Greater Manchester) are under are under new Covid guidance alongside a handful of other areas covering six million people.

They have been told to “minimise” travel in and out of the areas and avoid socially mixing indoors.

Pictured: Royal Army Medical Corps administering jabs on a ‘vaccination bus’ in Bolton – with a high Covid infection rate – on June 7

The new guidance is not legally binding and doesn’t mean the areas are being put back into a local lockdown.

Rising cases

ZOE’s data reveals daily cases of symptomatic Covid have more than doubled in one week.

It is estimated there are currently 11,908 new cases every day compared to 5,677 reported last week – an increase of 110 per cent.

In terms of prevalence, on average one in 543 people in the UK currently have symptomatic disease.

But there is a clear divide between the younger and older generations, mirrored by unvaccinated versus vaccinated.

It comes as other data from Public Health England shows that 81 per cent of local authorities in the country have seen a rise in rates in the last seven days.

One in 10 UK local areas (38 out of 380) are currently recording Covid-19 rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people, according to PA analysis.

This is the highest number of areas above this threshold since March 23.

Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire continues to have the highest rate of infections in the country, with 867 new cases in the seven days to June 5 – the equivalent of 579.2 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 438.9 in the seven days to May 29.

Rossendale in Lancashire has the second highest rate, up slightly from 312.0 to 320.4, with 229 new cases.

Bolton in Greater Manchester has the third highest, down from 378.4 to 310.6, with 893 new cases.

Meanwhile, the UK recorded the highest number of cases yesterday since February 26.

Some 7,540 cases were diagnosed up to Wednesday 9am and six deaths were reported.