Fifty-two areas of England record no Covid in over-70s in past week

Fifty-two areas of England have had no cases of Covid in the over-70s during the past week, analysis reveals.

Accounting for a sixth of local authorities, the boroughs are in places as varied as Burnley, Stafford and Southwark.

However, the preponderance are in the east and southeast of England, which were hit hardest by the more infectious so-called Kent variant this winter.

Public health officials have credited the transformation to the success of the vaccine campaign and high adherence to lockdown measures.

Rother, a local authority area of East Sussex comprising Camber Sands and Battle, has England’s fifth-highest overall death rate from Covid-19, with nearly all of its 331 deaths occurring in the second wave.

But 13 weeks after the January peak of infections it is now one of the areas that has seen no cases among over-70s in the past week.

Similarly, Epping Forest, which in early January had an over-70s infection rate of nearly 1,200 cases per 100,000 people, the second highest in England, has now not had a case in that age group since March 18.

Darrell Gale, the director of public health for East Sussex, told the Sunday Times: “Covid spread like wildfire among the elderly.

“The UK variant hit us very hard. Very early after Kent we were next.

“The public are obviously very aware of what happened over Christmas.

“It shocked them, which led to a change of behaviour.”

Stopping Covid infecting the over-70s is crucial because that age group was responsible for more than 85 per cent of all deaths from the virus last year.

Analysis shows that current infection rates are linked to enthusiasm for the vaccine.

Gloucester, which in January was the highest area for vaccine uptake, has now not seen a case of Covid in anyone over 60 since March 16.

There were fears that the return of schools on March 8 would fuel a surge in cases.

However, average number of UK daily cases has fallen from nearly 5,800 on March 8 to fewer than 4,200 last week.

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