Twelve London boroughs have seen Covid-19 infection rates tip the worrying threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people, amid fears the capital is hurtling towards Tier 2 restrictions.
Richmond upon Thames (140.4), Hackney and City of London (133.1) and Ealing (132.5) had the highest daily new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 8, according to Government statistics. None of the 32 boroughs had tipped the threshold before now, according to separate Public Health England data.
Croydon (69.8), Bromley (67.1) and Sutton (64), all in the south, sit at the other end of the scale with the fewest new cases per day — but all of them have still seen a significant hike in infections over the past month.
The average coronavirus infection rate across London's boroughs is 94.15 cases per 100,000 people, according to the most recent Department of Health data — the equivalent of nearly one person in every 1,000 in the last week.
However, London's figures appear to be being skewed upwards by the inclusion in the data of infected students studying in other cities. In Richmond, the capital's supposed hotspot, analysis shows that a quarter of positive cases in the borough since are actually in places including Manchester, Leeds, Exeter and Durham.
Of 212 cases recorded in Richmond since September 20, 49 were in other towns and cities, the Evening Standard reports The vast majority of these people were aged 17 to 21, suggesting they were students originally from London whose cases were recorded using their home address.
It comes after Mayor Sadiq Khan said it is 'inevitable' the capital will pass a 'trigger point' to join swathes of the North West in the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the 'next few days'. It would see the city's nine million residents banned from seeing their friends and family indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Mr Khan and other London bosses are in support of a national two-week 'circuit break' lockdown across the whole of England to stem rising infections to avoid 'sleepwalking into a bleak winter'. But Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey slammed Mr Khan as 'incredibly irresponsible' and accused him of 'governing by press release' for supporting drastic action without clear scientific backing.
Reports say 100 cases per 100,000 people is considered one of the thresholds for an area being moved into Tier 2. But ministers are bound to take into consideration an array of different sets of statistics, including ones that show the speed of growth, hospitalisations and deaths.
Data shows hospitalisations for Covid-19 in London have barely risen over the past month, despite cases having increased. Almost 5,000 infected patients were being treated by NHS doctors during the darkest days of the first wave in April — but the figure currently stands at around 300.
Richmond upon Thames (140.4), Hackney and City of London (133.1) and Ealing (132.5) have the highest infection rates in London, according to the Department of Health
Infection rates appear to be rising all over London, reaching higher levels in the west. Pictured are infection rates in London in the week to September 28
Seven–day rolling rate of new cases by specimen date ending on 08 October:
Richmond upon Thames: 140.4
Hackney and City of London: 133.1
Kensington and Chelsea: 103.8
Hammersmith and Fulham: 101.5
Kingston upon Thames: 101.4
Tower Hamlets: 100.4
London is still well behind the North West and North East, where ministers are focusing their attention to reduce Covid-19 cases which are beginning to translate into hospitalisations.
For example, Liverpool's intensive care wards are reportedly running at 95 per cent capacity, a councillor warned today.
Data shows London is around four weeks behind the North West, where a significant proportion of people have been affected by Tier 2 restrictions, and Liverpool is under Tier 3.
The 12 boroughs with infection rates above 100 cases per 100,000 are generally in the west and north-west of London, according to data from the Department of Health that goes up until October 8.
Six other boroughs - Wandsworth (98), Newham (95.7), Waltham Forest (95), Hillingdon (92.9), Lambeth (91.4) and Westminster (90.3) - are close behind with infection rates over 90.
No borough has an infection rate lower than 60 cases in every 100,000 people, and those on the lower end of the scale are all in the south and south-east of the capital.
The north-south divide in London bares a striking resemblance to the picture of England as a whole, with the North West suffering significantly higher cases than the South East and South West.
But despite south London having more than half the cases of the worst area - Bexley's infection rate is 62 compared to Richmond's 140 - London is expected to be treated as a region when considering new restrictions.
Rules such as a ban on mixing with friends and family, closure of pubs or gyms would be rolled across the city to avoid confusion.
And the latter rule could be implemented as early as this week, according to London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said it is inevitable the capital will pass a 'trigger point' to enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions in the 'next few days'.
Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey has slammed Mr Khan as 'incredibly irresponsible' and accused him of 'governing by press release' for supporting drastic action without clear scientific backing
Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to put a support package in place for London, as he suggested the capital could enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions this week.
The Mayor of London sought clarity on provisions made for businesses, support for vulnerable Londoners and test and trace efforts in the capital, including for those self-isolating.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, Mr Khan said that as the rate of infections in London was 'fast approaching' 100 cases per 100,000, it was 'likely' the capital would move to the next alert level as early as this week.
Moving from 'medium' up to 'high' would see the nine million people living in the capital banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
'It is vital London has the resources to engage, explain, encourage and enforce heightened restriction and support compliance,' Mr Khan said in the letter.
'One London borough has done some specific work to estimate the cost of providing that service for six months from November onward and it is £300k over and above the allocation that was recently made to councils for support to compliance.
'I am aware that these are discussions that have taken place with other areas that have had restrictions in place and London government would expect to have those discussions as well.'
Mr Khan said the 'unique circumstances' of the capital must be reflected in the approach and support.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
He added: 'The capital was hit particularly hard during the first wave with many of our communities and particularly the BAME community, suffering disproportionately.
'In addition, many families live in overcrowded accommodation and face high levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.
'Our size and density present specific challenges, with the economic case for protecting businesses in the Central Activities Zone