TRACKING the prevalence of coronavirus across the UK is a way to identify potential hot spots, experts have said.

This can be done by calculating the number of confirmed coronavirus cases are reported per 100,000 of the population per area – however it is important to remember that the number of cases is expected to be higher than official figures as not everybody who experiences symptoms gets tested, and testing varies from place to place.

Some areas can rank higher purely because they carry out more tests than other places. And due to the virus’s long incubation period and delay in results coming through, the figures may not accurately reflect what’s going on in the UK right now.

However, bearing that in mind, UK-wide analysis has been carried out using this method – and shows Scotland has not yet reached the rate of prevalence seen in London and Wales.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon stresses anyone could catch coronavirus

On the Scottish mainland, the area covered by the Borders NHS health board has the highest prevalence of the virus with 129 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Tayside (124) and Dumfries & Galloway (102).

Shetland has 42 confirmed cases as of April 7, among a population of 23,000 - equivalent to 183 cases per 100,000 people.

The area with the highest prevalence in the whole of the UK is Newport in Wales, which had reported around 286 cases per 100,000 population as of April 7.

Newport is one of only five areas of the UK with at least 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus per 100,000.

The other four are all in London: Brent (248 cases per 100,000), Southwark (224), Lambeth (214) and Harrow (200).

Along with Newport, other areas of south Wales are reporting some of the highest levels of prevalence in the country, such as Cardiff (198 cases per 100,000), Torfaen (188) and Blaenau Gwent (174).

Dr Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, suggested last month that the high number of cases in these areas could be partly to do with increased testing by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which is responsible for this part of the country.

"There has been a lot more testing in Aneurin Bevan," Dr Atherton told a press conference on March 26, "and so the fact we've been doing more testing has led to an increase in the number of cases identified."

He also noted that "being on the border with England is an issue", as "we know that the hotspot in the UK is around London", which has direct rail links to the area.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: UK death toll will be worst in Europe, IHME predicts

Prevalence is also lower across Northern Ireland, with Belfast recording the highest number (116 cases per 100,000), followed by Lisburn & Castlereagh (99) and Ards & North Down (65).

Lastly, in England there are levels of prevalence outside London that are well above 100 cases per 100,000.

As of April 7, the highest is in Cumbria (161 cases per 100,000), followed by Sheffield (152) and Walsall (136).

But again, these levels could be influenced by the volume of testing in these parts of the country - particularly in Sheffield, where the council has acknowledged there is more testing taking place than in other areas.

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.