Sheffield, Birmingham and Slough are three of the UK’s coronavirus hotspots, with more cases per population than everywhere except London.
The capital has the highest COVID-19 infection rate – 64 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Sheffield (52).
Birmingham is third with 50. And Slough, a town in Berkshire just 20 miles west of London, has 49 cases for every 100,000 people.
The true size of the UK’s coronavirus outbreak remains a mystery because of the controversial policy to only test patients in hospital.
Only 22,000 cases have been officially diagnosed – but scientists have suggested the true toll could be in the millions.
Figures from Public Health England (PHE) can be broken down into local authorities to show which have the most cases of coronavirus.
London and Birmingham have the most – 6,521 and 578 cases, respectively. Almost 500 cases have been recorded in Hampshire and 428 in Sheffield.
But Centre for Cities take a different approach to collating the PHE figures, looking at the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
It gives a clearer idea of how each area is being impacted by the epidemic, with a higher figure indicating there are more infected people among the population.
Slough has 73 total cases of coronavirus, but 59 cases per 100,000 is a high ratio considering its population of some 164,000.
In comparison, London, with a population of almost nine million, has 64 cases per 100,000. Birmingham, 126 miles away from the capital, has 50 cases per 100,000 for its population of around one million.
Liverpool and Manchester, both with around half a million residents, have been less severely impacted by the coronavirus, with 30 and 36 cases per 100,000 respectively.
But Sheffield, also with around half a million people, has a record high 59 cases per 100,000 – not far behind the far larger London.
Derby, with at least a quarter of a million residents has more cases per 100,000 (49) than both Liverpool and Manchester. Overall, it has a total of 118 recorded cases.
Milton Keynes (35) and Luton (32), both near to London, have a higher ratio of infection per 100,000 than Liverpool. Each have 94 and 69 reported cases respectively.
Hull has the lowest number of cases per population, with around three confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It has a total of 11 cases, according to PHE.
Scientists have attributed the large proportion of ‘total cases’ in London and Birmingham to its dense population and the fact they are international travel hubs.
The movement of large numbers of people, some tourists from hard-hit countries, would have contributed to the influx of cases in the first instance.
But it’s unclear why Slough and Sheffield have been implicated so severely. virus had only infected two people in Slough and Sheffield didn’t have any cases at all.
Between then and now, there has been an unprecedented rise in both areas, increasing far quicker than other cities of similar size.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust has reported 15 deaths from the coronavirus.
Director of Public Health for Sheffield, Greg Fell, said the region’s numbers could be down to increased frequency of tests in the city, The Star reported.
Mr Fell said on March 26: ‘I understand that people may find the reported number of cases in Sheffield worrying, but the data is simply a reflection that there is more testing happening here currently than in some other areas and so by default we know about more positive cases.
‘This doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more chance of being infected here than other parts of Yorkshire.’
It’s not clear why people in Sheffield are being tested more than other areas, as Mr Fell suggests. Slough is part of Berkshire, which in total has recorded 234 cases and one death.
Figures show the eastern parts of the county, which are the worst affected, are closest to London, which may suggest a spread from the city.