We're predicting UK hotspots early to help guide local testing

August 6, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

The COVID Symptom Study app’s Watch List has been accurately predicting the UK’s new hotspots such as Greater Manchester (Salford and Bolton), Blackburn and Darwen, Calderdale and Kirklees. 

These four regions were later identified as areas of concern and in need of intervention by the government a week later. This suggests that at least four of this week's regions could potentially be hotspots in governments report next week. The aim of the COVID Symptom Study app Watch List is to highlight key areas of concern so that attention can be focused on those areas. When an area of concern is highlighted, increased testing should take place there to help confirm if the situation needs further action such as a localised lockdown. 

The latest COVID Symptom Study Watch List

Blackburn with Darwen has been at the top of the Watch List for the last three weeks. This week, Halton, a region in North West England, entered the Watch List as the prevalence has been increasing. Luton, an area in South of England has now moved up to 6th place, making it the only area in the South on the Watch List, which is of concern given its proximity to the dense population of London.

The latest incidence figures

According to the latest COVID Symptom Study app figures, there are currently 1,626 daily new cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 01 August 2020 (excluding care homes) [*]. The latest figures were based on the data from 12,092 swab tests done between 19 July to 01 August. A full regional breakdown can be found on our data page.

The latest prevalence figures estimate that 26,512 people currently have symptomatic COVID in the UK. The prevalence data over the last few weeks also suggests that the amount of symptomatic COVID nationally has remained stable, although is still higher than in early July. The numbers are still higher in the North of England but the numbers have slightly decreased since last week.

The COVID Symptom Study app’s prevalence estimate is still within the confidence bounds of the most recent and smaller ONS Infection survey two weeks ago with an estimated 35,700 people (95% credible interval: 23,700 to 53,200) in England during the one week period from the 20 - 26 July 2020. 

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College London, comments: 

“We are really pleased to see that our Watch List is accurately identifying the areas of concern. We created it so that the government can do targeted testing and use solid data to lead decisions about local lockdowns and extra precautions. The public can freely access all our data on our website which we update on a daily basis. We urge people to continue logging in the app and encourage others as it’s their data that allows us to find out about the situation in their local area. We want to avoid another nationwide lockdown, so obtaining good local data is crucial .”
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