Health

Coronavirus R rate up again across UK – and could be as high as 1.5, experts warn

THE coronavirus R rate has gone up again across the UK – and could be as high as 1.5, experts have warned.

Government scientists say the epidemic is continuing to grow with the Covid reproduction rate now somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5.

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The latest R rate shows that the range has increased across the country

It means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 15 other people, according to released today by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

They estimated the figure to be between 1.1 and 1.4 last week, meaning that more people are being infected with coronavirus.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect.

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced tougher new measures earlier this week to drive the virus down, including a 10pm curfew on pubs and stricter rules on face masks.

The R rate has been gradually creeping up in recent weeks, but had mainly been confined to regions with localised outbreaks.

But the Government’s scientific advisers say all regions of England now have an R that is higher than one and all have positive growth rates.

“An increase in the UK-wide estimate of growth rate indicates that the rate of transmission is increasing across the country,” Sage said.

It said the current low numbers of deaths does not reflect how Covid-19 is currently spreading, suggesting death rates will rise in the coming weeks.

Overall, England has an R number of 1.2 to 1.5 while London and the Midlands are both on 1.2 to 1.5.

The figure is 1 to 1.3 in the South East and 1.1 to 1.4 in the South West.

The estimates for R and the growth rate are provided by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), a sub-group of Sage.

PA:Press Association

The coronavirus R rate has risen again, experts warn[/caption]

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between four per cent and eight per cent for the UK as a whole.

The most likely value is towards the middle of that range, the experts say.

Scientists behind the data said R and growth rates are not the only important measures of the epidemic and should be considered alongside other metrics.

These include the number of new Covid-19 cases identified during a specified time period (incidence), and the proportion of the population with the disease at a given point in time (prevalence), they added.

Earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the estimated number of cases of coronavirus across England had jumped 60 per cent in one week.

There were around 9,600 new coronavirus infections per day in England, up on 6,000 the week before, according to its infection survey.

The survey, which tests thousands of people in English homes whether they have symptoms or not, found an estimated 103,600 people had Covid-19 from September 13 to 19, equating to around one in 500 people.

The ONS said: “In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 age group.

“There is evidence of higher infection rates in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, London and North East.”

The data suggests there are three times the number of infections in the community as those being captured by Department of Health and Social Care data.

This looks at people with symptoms who request a test and records whether they test positive.

For the same week as that studied by ONS, this data showed around 3,000 positive tests a day in England.

It comes as Leeds and regions of Wales including Cardiff face new restrictions to tackle growing infection rates.

The ONS also estimated that during the week of September 13 to 19, 10,800 people in Wales had Covid-19, equating to one in 300 people.

An estimated 0.35% of people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19, which is around one in 300 people.

Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said there had been a “marked” increase in cases across England.

She added: “Every week we are sending out new letters to houses across the UK to ask them to take part in the Covid-19 Infection Survey to help us get more information about how the virus is spreading.

“If you receive a letter from us, please take the time to register and help control the spread of this virus.”

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