Lancashire’s Covid hotspot as ‘ultra-transmissible’ Kraken variant begins to spread across UK

Covid case rates doubles during December

Covid-19 cases have risen across Lancashire

One part of Lancashire stands well above the rest of the county with high Covid-19 rates.

Colne Waterside, in east Lancashire, has rates of 348 cases per 100,000 residents according to the most recent government data. Darwen Town was the next highest with rates of 282.2/100,000 with no other area surpassing the 200 mark.

Aughton in West Lancashire (175.2), Lower Penwortham South (171.5) and Longton and Walmer Bridge (168.2) were next on the list as a total of 20 areas surpassed case rates above 100/100,000. The data comes as separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show infections in the UK have jumped to their highest level since the summer.

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A total of 2.97 million people in private households in the UK were likely to be positive for coronavirus in the week to December 28, according to the (ONS). This is more than double the number at the start of the month and is the highest total since mid-July.

Around one in 20 people in England are likely to have had Covid-19 over the festive period, along with one in 18 in Wales and one in 16 in Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, the country is experiencing its worst flu season for a decade and ambulance handover delays at hospitals are at a record high.

Michelle Bowen, ONS head of health surveillance, said that Covid-19 infections have risen across the whole of the UK, with levels in Northern Ireland now at their highest since March 2022. She added: “Across English regions, infections have increased in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, the East of England, the South East and the South West. Cases have also increased in those aged two to school Year 6, and those aged 50 years and over.”

The current wave of coronavirus could prove to be one of the biggest the UK has seen. Infections peaked at 4.3 million last winter during the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but this was topped a few months later during the wave caused by the Omicron BA.2/3 subvariants, when infections reached a record 4.9 million.

The latest wave has not been linked with a specific new variant, but is instead likely to reflect an increased amount of social mixing and airborne transmission, particularly during the cold weather when more people are likely to be indoors.

But it does come as news of a new variant emerges, and is spreading across the UK. The new variant, dubbed as the ‘Kraken’, or more formally, XBB 1.5, has been described by some health experts as “ultra transmissible”. It is currently spreading across the UK, with reports of the case already made in the USA, NottinghamshireLive reports.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern over the new variant. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid, said: “We are concerned about its growth advantage in particular in some countries in Europe and in the US… particularly the Northeast part of the United States, where XBB.1.5 has rapidly replaced other circulating variants.

“Our concern is how transmissible it is… and the more this virus circulates, the more opportunities it will have to change.”

Lancashire neighbourhoods where Covid rates are above 100 cases per 100,000 people

Case rate per 100,000 people for 7–day period ending December 31

Colne Waterside – 348

Darwen Town – 285.2

Aughton – 175.2

Lower Penwortham South 171.5

Longton & Walmer Bridge – 168.2

Queensgate – 167.3

Broadfield & Knuzden – 164.4

Meadowhead – 153.9

North Shore – 150.2

South Shore – 136.8

Chorley West – 134

Church – 129.7

Fleetwood Rossall & Chatsworth – 126.5

Churchtown – 126.1

Accrington West – 125

St Annes North & Airport – 120.1

Stanley Park & Great Marton – 117.5

Queen’s Park & Higher Croft – 112.9

Upholland – 106.3

Colne Horsfield – 103.2

  • 05:25, 9 JAN 2023