DRAMATIC heat maps shown at a Downing Street press briefing this evening show how Covid cases are spreading like wildlife across all age groups – especially in the North.
England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam showed the graphs as part of Boris Johnson's national address on the latest in the UK's battle against coronavirus.
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And the maps show that cases of the virus are surging in almost every age group.
He said: "It's pretty stark.
"You can see very clearly now from this data that just one week on, how those heat maps have increased very markedly – not just in the north-east or north-west, but in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber too.
"This is most concerning because it's the penetration of disease into the older age groups that gives the NHS the problems."
He said areas shaded in darker colours show the worst-affected populations.
"Purple areas have increased and there are new areas of increased rate of change in over 60s," he said.
"I really want to emphasise that it's over 60s that really worries us most.
"These are the people who become severely ill.
"They're more likely to be admitted to hospital, if they are admitted they'ree there longer, and sadly they're more difficult to save."
And he said it's a "game of two halves" – with weekly case rates declining in the 10-19 and 20-29 age brackets.
But the "other half of the coin" is people aged 30-39 through to 80-plus, he said.
"The infections seeded in younger age groups are now penetrating older age groups as we go forward in time," he said.
"This means hospital admissions and deaths sadly linked to those cases are now baked in for next two to three weeks."
A map of hospital admissions shows "very marked and very steep increases" week-on-week, he said, particularly for older people.
The graphs show that "once this gets started in an area, how quickly it builds", the professor said.
A heat map showing spreading cases in Manchester was also included in the academic's presentation after Boris Johnson specifically asked for it to be shown to the public.
"You can see across the sub-regions of Greater Manchester, there are really very significant areas of heat across pretty much of all the ages," he said.
"The North is running ahead of the rest of the country at the moment."
It comes after days of disagreement with mayor Andy Burnham.
Manchester will be now be forced into a Tier 3 lockdown after talks between the PM and the Mayor collapsed this afternoon over just £5million – with both sides blaming the other.
Mr Johnson formally announced the change tonight.
"We strongly advise against travel into and out of the area," he said.
"I know that these restrictions are tough, both on businesses and individuals."
He said the Government will plough millions into Manchester to keep the area going throughout the lockdown.
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