Seven areas of the UK are coronavirus hotspots where more than one in 100 people have the virus, new data show.
The government’s latest statistics, for the seven days up to Thursday, show seven areas – all in or near the North East of England – have case rates of more than 1,000 per 100,000 people.
Those areas are:
Redcar and Cleveland: 1,421.8 infections per 100,000 people
South Tyneside: 1,206.8
North East Lincolnshire: 1,013.4
The number of areas with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people is only likely to increase in the coming days, after Boris Johnson lifted all lockdown restrictions on Monday.
A further 46,558 infections were reported across the UK on Tuesday, with 332,068 in the past seven days.
Meanwhile, COVID deaths – while still relatively low compared with the second wave over the winter – spiked 61% from the previous week.
There were 342 deaths in the week up to Tuesday, up 129 from the previous seven days.
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Professor Neil Ferguson, the scientist whose modelling convinced Johnson to impose the first national lockdown in March last year, has previously said daily cases could rise to 200,000.
Following Monday's so-called "freedom day", a top coronavirus adviser slammed the PM's plan to let the virus loose, saying it could cause “winter to come early” as COVID and other respiratory viruses are given freedom to circulate.
Professor John Edmunds, from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said “it’s going to be quite a difficult few months” due to the exponential rise in cases, which is now approaching the numbers seen in the second wave.
As well as ending the lockdown on Monday, the prime minister also removed the legal requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport.
However, in Redcar and Cleveland, the UK’s number one hotspot, people pledged to continue wearing masks indoors to keep others safe.
Mask wearing is still recommended by the government, but chip shop worker Nicky White, 53, told PA on Monday that this should not be left to individuals, adding: “If we all had common sense, the world would be a perfect place.”
Meanwhile mental health charity worker Callum Nicholson, 26, said he will continue to wear masks on buses and in shops to "help other people and out of respect for others”.
Watch: How the world could be better after COVID