EAST Lancashire is bucking the national link between coronavirus deaths and deprivation.

Despite wealth and health inequalities, mortality from Covid-19 in its six boroughs is close to that in the richest areas of England and Wales.

Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle regularly feature among the 20 per cent of most deprived local authority areas in the country with the first two having more than a third of their neighbourhoods in the 10 per cent of poorest areas.

The coronavirus death rate for the four boroughs plus adjoining Rossendale and Ribble Valley is 25.5 deaths per 100,000 head of population according to an Office of National Statistics.

This is close to the figure of 25.3 deaths per 100,000 residents for the wealthiest 10 per cent of council areas while similar parts of the country for deprivation markers come in at 55.1 deaths per 100,000.

Dominic Harrison, public health director for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Pennine Lancashire has bucked this trend with overall total Covid-19 mortality rates very near to, or below, the wealthiest 10 per cent of England and Wales.”

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, his Lancashire County Council counterpart, said: “It is terrible so many people have lost their lives to Coronavirus.We are though encouraged by these latest figures.”

Ribble Valley, East Lancashire’s wealthiest borough, has a Covid-19 death rate of 11 per 100,000 population.

Blackburn with Darwen’s equivalent rate is 29, Hyndburn’s 26, Burnley’s 32, Pendle’s 38 and Rossendale’s 17.

For the Lancashire County Council area it is 26 and in Blackpool 23.

The rates in Bradford, London and Manchester (which have similar deprivation rates) are 35, 86 and 60.

Prof Harrison said: “There will be multiple causes for our relatively lower death rates in Lancashire compared to other similar areas across the country. A key reason will be that at the point of lockdown we had fewer infections and when the lockdown started our lower rates were maintained due to good public compliance with lockdown guidance.

“We need to thank our local population and our local NHS that we are doing so well.”

Dr Karunanithi said:“We’re working closely with Lancashire Resilience Forum and the NHS to ensure we keep the infection and death rates as low as possible.

“We’d encourage everyone to follow the government guidelines on social distancing and lockdown so we can prevent the virus spreading further.”