A newly developed online Covid-19 calculator has identified several south London boroughs as being at high risk of becoming another ‘coronavirus hotspot’.
The risk of a London borough becoming the UK’s latest hotspot is increasing, according to the new tool, with those most at risk including Kingston, Richmond, Bexley and Wandsworth, which has a 45% chance over the next two weeks.
Devised by Imperial College London, the website predicts which parts of England and Wales have the greatest probability of seeing cases rise above 50 per 100,000, which it classes as a ‘hotspot.’
The calculator identifies most at-risk borough is Wandsworth, which currently has a 3% chance of becoming a hotspot this week, but by September that will have increased to a whopping 45%. Only Kensington and Chelsea is higher within the capital.
According to the website, there is a 95% probability that the R rate will have increased to be greater than 1 at that point, meaning infections will spread at an increasing rate.
The tool predicts there is a 31% of Richmond upon Thames becoming a hotspot, and a 27% chance in Kingston upon Thames.
The rest of the south west of London remains low risk, with Croydon (9), Sutton (6), Merton (6), and Southwark (5) all below 10% risk over the next fortnight.
In the south east of the capital, Bexley has been identified as the highest risk, and has a 17% chance of becoming a hotspot for the virus within the next two weeks.
Greenwich has a 11% chance, Bromley 9%, Lewisham 5%, and Dartford 2%.
Lead researcher Professor Axel Gandy, from the Department of Mathematics at Imperial, said: “COVID-19 is, unfortunately, very much still with us, but we hope this will be a useful tool for local and national governments trying to bring hotspots under control.
“The model allows us to project where local hotspots of COVID-19 are likely to develop in England and Wales based on the trends that we’re seeing in those areas.”
The website was produced by the Department of Mathemtics, in collaboration with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling within the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (GIDA), and Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J-IDEA) at Imperial.
It uses data on daily reported cases and weekly reported deaths and mathematics modelling to reported a probability that a local authority will become a hotspot in the following week.
The site also provides estimates for each local authority in England and Wales on whether cases are likely to be increasing or decreasing in the following week and the probability of R(t) being greater than 1 in the following week.
Currently, highlighted hotspots include Pendle, Bolton, Corby and Oldham with more than 50 reported cases per 100,000 population in the past week. However, the recently reported case numbers for Oldham show a decline.
As a result, the model shows it is unlikely Oldham will remain a hotspot and the probability of it having an R(t) over 1 is low at 12%.
In comparison, recently reported case numbers for Bolton and Corby have increased, leading the model to show a high probability of these areas remaining hotspots in the next couple of weeks. The probability of R(t) being over 1 in these local authorities is 98% and 94% respectively.
The predictions do assume no change in current interventions (lockdowns, school closures, and others) in a local authority beyond those already taken about a week before the end of observations.
Dr Swapnil Mishra, from the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, said: “We provide weekly predictions of the evolution of COVID-19 at the local authority level in England and Wales. Our model helps to identify hotspots – probable local areas of concern.
“We hope that our estimates will enable swift action at the local level to control the spread of the epidemic.”