Sheffield on course to become UK’s next coronavirus epicentre, experts say

Cases are rising rapidly

Sheffield could become the UK’s next epicentre for coronavirus after research found infections are increasing more rapidly than anywhere outside of London.

The city has 62 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people – second only to London which is at more than 70 cases per 100,000, experts at the Centre for Cities think tank found.

This is over three times more than Leeds, which stands at 19 cases per 100,000. Birmingham is the third hotspot behind Sheffield at 56 cases per 100,000, while the city with the lowest number of infections is Hull, with just four confirmed cases per 100,000.

Coronavirus cases in Sheffield surged over the past week, the Centre for Cities research found using official statistics from Public Health England.

The city’s first confirmed infection occurred on March 11, before rising steadily to 146 cases by March 24, then rocketing to its current level at 451 – from a total population of 847,000 – the third-highest amount in England.

Sheffield is the second highest line on the graph. Credit: Centre for Cities

13 people who have contracted coronavirus have died in Sheffield. Royal Hallamshire Hospital, one of several infectious disease units in Britain, has banned visitors unless the patient is in labour or dying.

However, Sheffield’s public health chief insisted there is no evidence you are more likely to catch the contagious virus in the city and has put the high numbers down to increased amounts of testing.

Greg Fell, director of public health in Sheffield, said: “I understand people may find the number of reported cases worrying.

“But the data is simply a reflection that there is more testing happening here currently than in some other areas… and so we know about more positive cases.”

He added that his advice remains the same: “Stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”

It comes as police in the city bring in checkpoints to catch out non-essential travel.

Official advice remains to stay indoors and socially isolate, and estimates say that the lockdown will continue until June at the earliest. Anyone concerned that they have the virus should go to NHS 111 online.

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