AREAS of deprivation and high population density are often more likely to be Covid ‘hotspots’ because people living there cannot work from home.

In Oxfordshire at time of writing, Covid hotspots currently include Banbury Ruscote, as well as Greater Leys in Oxford, some of the most deprived areas of the county according to Government data.

A similar picture is playing out with deprived areas across the UK, but a public health expert has warned about dwelling on these ‘micro hotspots’ because of the ever-changing picture of the pandemic.

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Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire’s Director of Public Health, said it was often neighbourhoods across the county with high population density, where people had low-paid jobs in services or manual labour, where Covid spread more quickly.

According to the latest data for the week ending January 29, the rate of infection per 100,000 people in Oxford is currently 257.1, and in Cherwell District, which covers Banbury, it is 238.5.

In other districts it is lower: South Oxfordshire is 146.4, Vale of White Horse is 151.5; and West Oxfordshire is 135.6.

Mr Azhar said: “One of the things we have realised since the lockdown is some of the deprived communities have higher rates because they are also the ones who have to leave home to work. But that is not an Oxfordshire trend, that is across the UK.”

While areas like Banbury Ruscote and Greater Leys are currently seeing high rates of Covid, the public health director said it was important not to dwell on this.

Hotspots change every week

He said: “These hotspots change every week as well. It is really important we don’t comment too much on these hotspots because they might be different tomorrow.”

However, at times throughout the pandemic, these areas and other similar wards like Littlemore and Rose Hill have commonly seen high case rates.

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Mr Azhar, speaking at a meeting of the county’s health overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, said there had been targeted communications work with some Oxfordshire communities where there had been Covid spikes as part of efforts to reduce the number of cases.

An interactive map at tracks the local case rate down to council ward.