CORONAVIRUS infection rates in Dorset are highly likely to double next month - according to experts at Imperial College London.

An interactive map shows that the risk of infection has risen rapidly in the Dorset Council area but is highly likely to increase in coming weeks.

In the Dorset Council area the current rolling rate of new cases is 101.7 per 100,000 of the population per week - while in nearby Bournemouth Christchurch Poole, the infection rate is almost double, with more than 200 cases per 100,000 of the population per week.

On the interactive map, Dorset is predicted to remain a hotspot in coming weeks, with a 99 per cent chance of a having 100 cases per 100,000 of the population per week during November.

Furthermore, it predicts a 93 per cent chance that Dorset will have more than 200 cases per 100,000 population by November 15. A probability of 21 per cent is given for the likelihood that there will be more than 500 cases per 100,000 population in the same time frame.

Imperial College London said: “For future weeks, we give probabilities based on our model, which assumes a situation in which no change in interventions (e.g. local lockdowns) occur. To define weeks we use specimen dates, ie the day on which tests are taken.”

Data on daily reported cases and weekly reported deaths is used along with “mathematical modelling” to report on the probability that a local authority will see a rise in infection rates in the coming weeks.

At the time of writing, both Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council areas remain in the medium category, tier 1 - although concerns have been raised that Bournemouth Christchurch Poole could soon be upgraded to tier 2.

Commenting previously on the potential for Dorset to move to a higher tier in coronavirus restrictions, Sam Crowe, director of Public Health Dorset said: “There’s obviously a lot of anxiety going on about the very difficult decisions that are being taken to look at whether additional measures are required where cases are rising quickly.

“Locally, I would just like to assure people that we regularly discuss these issues and the need to be prepared should we have to start to have that conversation about the need to move to a higher alert level.”