NEW figures show the biggest increases in Covid-19 cases are now in Liverpool City Region - which includes Wirral - and the West Midlands.

Both regions have seen particularly sharp increases in cases, overtaking the speed of the spread of the virus in the South and East of England, which has seen hospitals overwhelmed with Covid patients.

There are more than 3,000 people infected with coronavirus in Wirral.

In the last seven days of figures, which go up to January 8, 3,089 people tested positive for the virus in Wirral, at a rate of 953 per 100,000.

The rate has ballooned in the last week.

Numbers for the previous seven days, up to January 1, reveal there were 1,967 cases in the borough at the lower rate of 607 per 100,000.

Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: "These are sobering figures and it's clear that the virus is spreading very rapidly across the country, and worryingly so for the North West and in particular the Liverpool City Region.

"I'd urge everyone to be extra careful and keep doing everything to keep yourself and loved ones safe to stop our NHS being overwhelmed."

Wirral Globe:

Coronavirus Rates (PA Graphics)

All six authorities in the Liverpool City Region are currently in the top 10 local areas with the biggest week-on-week jump in rates.

Matthew Ashton, director of public health at Liverpool City Council, said: "They are very concerning infection rates.

"Our rates have more than doubled in a week.

"Everybody needs to be strictly following the rules. Even if you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should.

"In fact we have got a variant of the virus that is 50 to 70 per cent more transmissible, therefore our Covid security measures need to be 50 to 70 per cent stronger, and that is strict adherence to the rules.”

Mr Ashton said pressure on hospitals will be "immense" and despite “pandemic fatigue” the new strain meant there could be no let-up.

He added: "We are going to see more deaths.

"The next two months are going to be very difficult for everybody. This is literally about saving lives now."

Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall – all within the West Midlands metropolitan county – have also seen sharp increases.

All regions of England continue to record a week-on-week increase in rates, though there are signs in the South and East that the rise is slowing.

In London, the rate stood at 1,000.9 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to January 6, up slightly from 965.4 in the previous week.

All figures have been calculated by the PA news agency based on the latest data published by Public Health England.