New Covid map shows which areas are spiking as hospital reintroduces masks

Nigel Farage on potential return of coronavirus masks

All staff, patients and visitors at hospitals and community hubs operated by Sheffield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been asked to return to wearing face masks as Covid and flu cases increase “significantly”.

Health bosses described the advice – which came into effect on Friday and also recommended sanitising hands, keeping a safe distance and staying away if symptomatic – as “precautionary”.

The latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures show a total of 12,123 new cases of the disease were recorded in England in the week up to October 14 – equal to 21.4 cases per 100,000.

Experts believe the new Pirola variant may be driving up numbers as the country heads into winter, as the NHS resumes its booster jab push in the hopes of avoiding a “twindemic” again this year.

While overall case numbers are down from a late-summer spike, infection rates remain alarmingly high in some areas. Check’s interactive map below to find out where.

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Great Yarmouth in Norfolk is the current Covid hot spot in England and Wales, with more cases per head than any other local authority in the country, over the seven days to October 14, at 54.4 per 100,000 – over double the national rate.

Chesterfield in Derbyshire had the next highest rate at 49.6 per 100,000 people, down from 58.1 the previous week when it topped the infection charts.

This was followed by Scarborough (45.1), the Isle of Wight (44.3) and Fylde in Lancashire (43.1). The rate in Sheffield was 26.6 per 100,000, only slightly above the national average.

New cases across England as a whole had been rising steadily since the end of the summer – from 7,787 over the seven days to August 30, to 16,186 by September 30 – but have now begun to fall.

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Sheffield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s website states: “Along with our staff, visitors, outpatients and anyone accompanying them are asked to wear masks in all clinical areas and anywhere they will be in close contact with others for longer periods of time.

“Please ask staff if you do not have a mask and they will provide you with one.”

The so-called Pirola variant was first discovered in Denmark on July 24. Although little is known about the dangers of the strain, it is believed to have descended from the Omicron BA.2 sublineage responsible for last year’s surge in cases.

It has so far been detected in 15 countries worldwide, according to tracker GISAID, including France, Japan and Australia.

The NHS continues to recommend those who test positive remain at home and avoid contact with others for five days, and that those exhibiting severe symptoms head to A&E or call 999.

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