DUDLEY has been flagged as a potential coronavirus hotspot, according to researchers from King’s College London.

A research project led by Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, has looked at data from the COVID-19 Symptom Study app, developed by health science company ZOE, and combined the reports of users with software algorithms to try to predict who has the virus and track infections across the country and overseas.

Dudley has been ranked in the top three potential hotspot sites in the UK by the research team who have also flagged up Wolverhampton and Leicester – the latter of which has already been returned to lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases there.

Just days ago Dudley Council bosses unveiled plans to control and contain the virus in the borough to help stave off a second wave of infections after Leicester became the first area of the UK to be forced back into a full lockdown.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, urged people to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines and to enjoy the lifting of lockdown restrictions “with a sense of responsibility” as bars and restaurants re-opened on Saturday July 4 and he warned: “Any local spike could result in lockdown action.”

Professor Spector, at King's College London, said of the data which flagged Dudley as an area of concern: “This fresh look at the data was inspired by the local lockdown in Leicester, we challenged ourselves to see if our app data could highlight any other local hotspots and we are really pleased that it does.

“The new model picked up Leicester as a consistent hotspot back on June 17 which suggests it is accurately picking up places of concern.

“With our data now flagging up potential new hotspots, it will allow for greater surveillance and focussed testing that could detect problems like Leicester much earlier and hopefully reduce the number of major lockdowns.

“But to do this more successfully we still need more people to join us by logging how they are feeling each day so we can send out kits to those feeling unwell and catch these outbreaks and help us closely monitor what is going on in the UK population.”