The UK’s rocketing coronavirus rates are only now beginning to slow, official figures show.
But this nationwide picture disguises huge regional variations, with some parts of the UK still experiencing dramatic rises.
There were 605,313 new positive tests recorded across the UK in the week ending March 24, just 6% higher than the week before - raising hopes that the current BA.2 wave may soon peak.
This isn’t being felt everywhere, however. The North East of England has seen case numbers rise by a third (33%) in just a week, with 20,771 new positive tests recorded in the week to March 24.
The second highest weekly rise was in Yorkshire and the Humber, which saw cases jump by a quarter (25%) in a week.
Scotland still has the highest overall case rate, at 1,411 cases per 100,000 residents in the week to March 24.
This is followed by the South West, with 1,292 cases per 100,000 residents.
The lowest case rate is in Wales, with 460 cases per 100,000 residents - although the Welsh figures do not include lateral flow test results.
The current BA.2 wave has seen case rates hit the second highest level in the pandemic so far, after the Omicron wave of the past winter.
The lifting of many restrictions, waning effectiveness of boosters and the spread of the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant, dubbed ‘stealth Omicron’, have all been touted as potential reasons for the current high infection rates.
Across the UK, hospitalisations are at about half the numbers seen at their peak, in January 2021, while the number of deaths is well below those seen before the vaccine rollout.
But the high infection rates, and the resulting absences, are still causing disruption in schools and hospitals.
Here are the 12 local authority areas with the UK’s fastest rising Covid cases, comparing the week to March 24 with the week before.
The figures include people infected with Covid-19 for the first time as well as reinfections.