The chances of Southampton and Eastleigh becoming a COVID-19 hotspots are rising sharply and set to increase further, according to new data.

Data released by Imperial College London has predicted Southampton has a 95% chance of becoming a virus hotspot by the end of October

The interactive map uses figures of reported cases and mathematical modelling to predict the likelihood of an area becoming a hotspot of the virus.

For an area to be defined as a "hotspot" weekly numbers of reported cases per 100,000 population must exceed 50.

Figures for the 11 - 17 October period predict Southampton has a 59% chance of becoming a hotspot.

But for 18 - 24 October, this figure jumps to a staggering 95%.

Daily Echo:

Test Valley showed an even higher likelihood of becoming a hotspot - a 96% chance by the end of October (up 16% from the previous week.)

Eastleigh is predicted to have a 33% chance of becoming a hotspot between 11 -17 October, jumping sharply to 86% between 18 - 24 October.

Data for Fareham shows an increase of 31% between the two times frames (8% vs 39%.)

Modelling assumes a situation in which no change in interventions (e.g. local lockdowns) occur.

Researchers noted that reported case figures can be due to an increase in testing, meaning they may not be reflective of an increase of actual virus case numbers in an area.

Conservative MP for Southampton Itchen, Royston Smith said: “The return of 40,000 students and the opening of schools has unsurprisingly created additional challenges.

“The universities are doing all they can to keep students safe but a large increase in population will obviously bring an increase in infection rates.”

Labour MP for Southampton Test, Dr Alan Whitehead said: “Although cases are rising in Southampton [figures are]still relatively low compared to other local authority areas and...not rising at the same speed as we’ve seen in other places such as cities in the north east.

“That said the rise in cases is still a very worrying trend.

“I don’t think the government’s current 3 tier approach will help the country back from the brink with regards to rising cases.

“I think that we need a short circuit break lockdown to enable the government to get a grip of their test and trace system.”