Interactive coronavirus map predicts major cities across UK will become hotspots in next few weeks

Connor Parker
·5 mins read
The map shows the likelihood a local authority will become a coronavirus hotspot. The darker the shade of red the more likely it will become a hotspot.
The map shows the likelihood a local authority will become a coronavirus hotspot. The darker the shade of red the more likely it will become a hotspot.

A website that estimates the likelihood an area will see their coronavirus numbers rise has predicted major cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and, Leeds all have over a 99% chance of becoming a COVID-19 hotpsot.

Birmingham is in second place on the website, sitting behind Bolton, with both having a 100% chance of being a hotspot from now until September 26.

Liverpool is predicted to have a 98% chance of being a hotspot by September 26.

The website is run by Imperial College London and has used reported cases to estimate the probability of different regions becoming hotspots.

The site has been live for over a week and there have been significant changes in its predictions since then, generally for the worse.

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Map showing the current hotspots in England and Wales. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the current hotspots in England and Wales. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the percentage chance areas in England and Wales will become coronavirus hotspots in the week September 20 to 26. The darker the shade of red the likelier it is they will be a hotspot. (Imperial College London)
Map showing the percentage chance areas in England and Wales will become coronavirus hotspots in the week September 20 to 26. The darker the shade of red the likelier it is they will be a hotspot. (Imperial College London)

Last week the site said Leeds had an 83% chance of becoming a hotspot by September 13, it is now third on the site and has a 99% chance until September 26, where the models predictions end.

Leeds was added to the government’s “area of concern” watchlist last Friday.

Manchester and Glasgow, which are currently already under lockdown, also have between a 99%-100% chance of staying as a hotspot for the next few weeks.

Caerphilly, which was put under a local lockdown on Tuesday is now fourth on the list and has a 100% of being a hotspot until September 26.

The team behind the website define a hotspot as a local authority where there are more than 50 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population per week.

Since Sunday there has been a major uptick in the number of coronavirus cases across the country, which has sparked concern among scientists and a tightening of rules by the government.

There were 2,919 new cases on Thursday, the fifth day in a row where the number was above 2,000.

This has meant the website has significantly increased the expected likelihood of outbreaks across the country.

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Chart showing the potential chance a local authority will become a hotspot. The figures in shades of reds and yellows are the percentage probability the area will become a coronavirus hotspot in the following weeks. The final column in purple is the chance the R number in those areas is already higher than one. (Imperial College London)
Chart showing the potential chance a local authority will become a hotspot. The figures in shades of reds and yellows are the percentage probability the area will become a coronavirus hotspot in the following weeks. The final column in purple is the chance the R number in those areas is already higher than one. (Imperial College London)

There are other areas of the country that are currently not considered at risk, but see their percentage chance of becoming a hotspot shooting up over the next few weeks.

North Lanarkshire in Scotland only had a 12% chance of becoming a hotspot Wednesday, but by the end of next week, this jumps to 50% and then 75% the week after.

County Durham faces a similar situation, with a 27% chance of becoming a hotspot on Wednesday but a 94% chance in two weeks time.

It’s not all bad news, the site predicts over half the country’s local authorities have a less than 15% chance of becoming a hotspot by September 27.

Only 61 out of 366 local authorities on the website have a higher than 50% chance of becoming a hotspot by September 27.

The few areas predicted to see a decline in their chance of being a coronavirus hotspot are already under local lockdown like Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen.

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Map from the website predicting the chance the number of coronavirus cases in the area are increasing or decreasing. The darker the shade of purple the more likely it is cases are increasing, the darker shade of the green the more likely it is cases are decreasing. Areas in grey are too hard to predict at this time. (Imperial College London)
Map from the website predicting the chance the number of coronavirus cases in the area are increasing or decreasing. The darker the shade of purple the more likely it is cases are increasing, the darker shade of the green the more likely it is cases are decreasing. Areas in grey are too hard to predict at this time. (Imperial College London)

(You can access the map here.)

The team behind the website say their projections: “assume that interventions and behaviour patterns do not change from about a week before the end of observations onwards.”

Because the website is updated daily the new national rule of six law which was announced yesterday by Boris Johnson will be factored in.

Despite the new rules the site predicts an increase in coronavirus across the country, although it does take a few weeks for updated guidelines start making a difference.

The site also provides estimates for each local authority in Britain on whether cases are likely to be increasing or decreasing in the following week and the probability of the important R number being greater than one.

The R number indicates the number of people each infected person will pass the virus on to. An R number greater than 1 indicates the outbreak is not under control and cases will continue to increase.

In their latest estimate of the R number in each area was for between September 5 and 9.

Their calculation predicts there is a 95% chance that R is higher than one in 97 local authorities in the UK, in areas up and down the country.

The website treats each local authority independently of its neighbours in the modelling so the epidemic in one local authority does not affect or is not affected by the situation in any adjacent local authority.

The team also noted that an increase in cases in a local authority can be due to an increase in testing, which the model does not currently account for.

The model also assumes all individuals within each local authority are equally likely to be infected, so demographic factors, such as age, are not considered.

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