Oldham, Blackburn with Darwen, and Pendle remain England’s worst-hit coronavirus hotspots, according to official data.
The chart below shows the areas which are currently on Public Health England’s coronavirus “watchlist” – with a significant number of areas showing increases in their weekly case rates.
Latest figures show Oldham had 103.1 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to 13 August, while Blackburn with Darwen had 95.3 cases per 100,000 and Pendle had 75.5 per 100,000 over the same period.
However, the data shows the case rate in Pendle is trending down on the previous week.
The three areas have managed to escape local lockdowns after spikes in cases, but will face tighter restrictions meaning that people cannot mix with other households.
England’s overall infection rate has increased, reaching 11.9 cases per 100,000 people – up from 9.4 the previous week.
Scientists say the slight increase in infection rates across England is being driven by younger age groups.
Although Northampton has the highest weekly case rate of 125.3 per 100,000, this is almost solely due to an outbreak at a factory where at least 292 workers tested positive for coronavirus.
It has now become an “area of intervention” – the highest risk category.
Birmingham is a new addition to the watchlist and has been identified as an area needing “enhanced support”, meaning it will receive extra resources for additional testing and contact tracing.
The city’s council leader Ian Ward said most new cases are in people aged between 20 and 40, although there has been no single cause of the outbreaks.
He said there are no plans to lockdown in Birmingham, but the situation will remain under review.
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Slough has also been added as an area of concern, although is not currently facing any new measures.
Meanwhile, extra restrictions that were introduced across Greater Manchester and parts of northern England last month have been relaxed in Wigan, Darwen and Rossendale.
Scientists advising the government believe there is little room to relax restrictions further across the UK, with schools set to open next month.
They now believe the R number in the UK has risen to between 0.9 to 1.1 – an increase on an estimated range of 0.8 to 1 last week.
The R number measures how many people on average an infected person will transmit the virus to.