THE number of people in Sandwell and Dudley with Covid could be the lowest in the West Midlands if a new system of calculating cases proves accurate.

The prospect of the two boroughs dropping to bottom of the league table for coronavirus comes as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed figures which compensate for differences in testing numbers.

The new system gives hope that both areas may see rapid falls in overall cases in the near future 

Data for the seven days up to November 25, rates of infections fell to 318 per 100,000 in Sandwell and 339 in Dudley – a drop of over a third.

Figures are based on the number of positive tests and in comparison Birmingham’s figure stands at 276.

But data from ONS suggest the actual numbers of cases in each town are the lowest in the region. 

Under the new system, the estimated number of people in Dudley with Covid is just one per cent while Sandwell stands at 1.2 per cent.

Dr Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell, explaining how the calculations work said:  “By using random samples of the population, the ONS survey provides a good estimate of how much infection is in an area.  

“In contrast, the case rates from testing that we usually see published can’t do that.  They are as much a reflection of how much testing is done and the willingness of local people to get tested when they have symptoms.”

The new data estimates the number of people in Birmingham with Covid is 2.8  percent and in Solihull, 2.9.  

Dr McNally added: “Sandwell’s infection rates in the ONS survey do seem to be lower than some other areas nearby. 

“But we can’t be complacent and must remain careful. Shops and other busy areas carry a higher risk of infection and Covid-19 is a potentially fatal illness.

“People in Sandwell have shown a really positive attitude to Covid-19.  They know that, as a densely populated and less economically advantaged area than most, Sandwell is vulnerable to the spread of infection. 

“So local voluntary organisations, faith communities, schools and businesses have led the fight against Covid-19 with great energy and enthusiasm.”