INVERCLYDE council wards are the top hotspots in the whole of Scotland for the transmission of coronavirus according to detailed new research.

The grim finding from a study of every local authority area in the country comes in the wake of the revelation that our district has by far the highest COVID-19 death rate nationally.

Now the latest findings, by think tank Scotianomics, have increased the urgency of calls for significant additional support from the Scottish Government to tackle deprivation levels here.

All of Scotland's 354 council wards have been ranked for the risk of COVID-19 transmission and the potential for fatalities.

Inverclyde North, Inverclyde West, Inverclyde East, Inverclyde South and Inverclyde East Central occupy the top five slots.

Inverclyde Central was ranked seventh in Scotland and Inverclyde South West was placed 11th.

Council leader Stephen McCabe is now set to instruct officials to prepare an urgent briefing paper for elected members after being informed of the findings by the Telegraph.

Mr McCabe said: "This new research appears to provide further evidence of the strong correlation between poverty and deprivation and the vulnerability of communities to COVID-19.

"I will be asking our officers to examine the research and provide a briefing for elected members.

"The research also underlines the need for the Scottish Government to provide extra support for areas like Inverclyde that have been hardest hit by the virus, both in the short-term and in the long-term, so we can address the underlying causes that have made us so vulnerable to it."

Data released earlier this year has shown that central Greenock is now officially the most deprived area in Scotland.

Scotianomics say they have calculated Inverclyde's COVID-19 risk positions by using 'multiple sets of data' in order to arrive at their conclusions.

They say that their resultant Community Risks Index provides 'the most detailed possible picture of which Scottish communities are most under threat'.

Scotianomics add that their colour-coded map — which is available to view online — 'should help guide Scottish Government policy on lifting lockdown restrictions on a phased, geographic basis'.

A spokesman for the think tank said: "This could see schools or businesses across the country open earlier or later depending on the risk levels within individual communities."

Glasgow-based Scotianomics founding director, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, added: "What is evident is that, for a wide variety of reasons, the risks vary hugely in different communities across Scotland.

"In terms of both the economy and health and wellbeing, we believe it makes sense to ease the lockdown according to those regional differences in risk."

The Scotianomics study, led by senior researcher Samuel MacKinnon, was conducted during last month and has been submitted to the Scottish Government's Advisory Group on Economic Recovery.

It is now being made publicly accessible and Scotianomics has pledged that they will update the online tracker as new datasets become available.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp said: "We want to be absolutely clear, this is nothing to do with the number of cases in an area or how well people living in each area have observed the lockdown.

"It is not a map of COVID-19 cases across Scotland but of the areas most at risk of community infection.

"What it sets out very clearly is that the risks of transmission and the likelihood of fatalities within particular communities can be predicted with a high degree of confidence."

"This clearly demonstrates the scope to consider issues such as schools reopening on Orkney to a different timescale to Greenock."

The COVID-19 Risk Monitor can be viewed online at