Milton Keynes has one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in England

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A special investigation has revealed MK's Covid-19 infection figures are among the lowest in the country.

The Citizen's JPI Media investigative team analysed government data from all 314 local authorities in England to cover the two week period between May 23 and June 6.

It showed that new coronavirus hotspots continue to develop across the UK, despite the introduction of testing and tracing systems.

But Milton Keynes is certainly not one of these areas.

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Milton Keynes has one of the lowest infection rates in EnglandMilton Keynes has one of the lowest infection rates in England
Milton Keynes has one of the lowest infection rates in England

We ranked each area from highest to lowest by calculating their rate of infection per 100,000 population during that fortnight,. And Milton Keynes just scraped the bottom 20, ranking 294 out 314 local authorities.

Yet, just 17 miles away, Bedford ranked as the fifth worst hotspot in the UK with an infection rate 25 times higher.

During the 14 days between May 23 and June 6, MK had just four new laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 and this brought its total to 512.

Based on a current population of 269,457, that means the number of cases per 100,000 of population was just 1.5 during that fortnight.

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By comparison, the biggest coronavirus hotpsot - Ashford - had an infection rate of 63.1 per 100,000 of population. Next were Huntingdonshire with 57.3 and Tunbridge Wells with 56.4.

Peterborough and neighbouring Bedford ranked fourth and fifth with infection rates of 42.0 and 38.7 per 100,000 respectively.

Monitoring the number of new infections plays an important part in measuring R, the reproduction rate of the virus, and the UK Government last month unveiled plans for “local lockdowns” in the next phase of the fight against the pandemic.

At a press briefing on last Friday, health secretary Matt Hancock said measures had since been put in place to dampen localised outbreaks, such as in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset.

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There, Weston General Hospital has been closed to new patients to control the spread of the virus among patients and staff.

Mr Hancock said it would be “increasingly important” to monitor data at local levels and then take action, a job which would fall to the new Joint Biosecurity Centre.

He said: “We need to get more granular and more focused and find the source of the local outbreak and then deal with it.”

The highest rates of new cases in the past fortnight were seen in Ashford and Tunbridge Wells in South East England, Huntingdonshire in the East of England and North Wales.

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Each of these areas saw more than 50 new cases diagnosed for every 100,000 residents in the two weeks to June 6.

In Northern Ireland, the Causeway Coast and Glens council area saw the highest rate of new cases, at 29.8 per 100,000 residents, in the fortnight to June 6.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday (June 9), Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann welcomed the nation’s third consecutive day without a coronavirus death.

But he warned of the chance of a second wave, saying: “There will be no charge for the lockdown exit door. There will be no suggestion that the worst is over, that people can relax their guard.

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“Yes, Covid-19 is in retreat but we must not turn our back on it.”

In Scotland, the NHS Ayrshire and Arran area saw the highest rate of new cases, at 16.8 per 100,000 residents, in the fortnight to June 6.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday (June 9), first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would in the coming weeks be publishing region-specific figures on the early stages of the country’s Test and Protect scheme.

She said: “I can’t stress enough that the willingness of all of us to fully co-operate with Test and Protect in the weeks and months to come will be absolutely vital to our efforts to keep the virus suppressed as we try to restore some normality to our everyday lives.”

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The areas showing the lowest Covid-19 infection rates in the country are Teignbridge, Woking, Chichester, Torridge, West Devon and North Devon. All of these showed no cases at all during the period analysed.

All the figures used come from Public Health England and refer to cases that have been officially confirmed through a test centre or hospital. There is still no accurate records available for people who have had coornavirus in the community but were never tested.