In Brief

Why has a remote Cumbrian town got UK’s highest Covid-19 infection rate?

Barrow-in-Furness has recorded nearly four times more cases per capita than England average

Experts are struggling to explain why one the most remote towns in England has recorded the highest coronavirus infection rate in the UK.

A total of 552 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, according to latest government figures. That equates to a rate of 882.2 per 100,000 people - almost four times higher than the English average of 244.5, reports The Guardian.

At least 61 people in Barrow have died after contracting the coronavirus, a death rate of 91 per 100,000 people – “one of the worst outside of London”, says the Daily Mail.

“It is a big worry, especially with the lockdown being released,” said Lee Roberts, deputy leader of Barrow Borough Council.

Some of the infections can be traced back to a house party before the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March, with at least five people believed to have contracted the virus from one guest. 

But Roberts believes high levels of deprivation are a factor in the town’s high infection rate. An Office for National Statistics report published earlier this month revealed that people in the poorest areas of the country are dying at twice the rate of those in the wealthiest regions.

In addition, Barrow’s population is older than average, with 22.7% of residents aged between 65 and 90, compared with the England average of 18.3%, according to The Guardian.

The director of public health for Cumbria, Colin Cox, says the high infection rate in Barrow may also be explained in part by higher rates of coronavirus testing in the town compared with other places, reports the BBC.

“The rate of testing in Barrow has been two to three times higher than in many other parts of the northwest, so that will explain a fair chunk of it, but I don’t think it will explain all of it,” said Cox.

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