THE coronavirus R rate has gone up again across the UK – and could now be as high as 1.6, experts have warned.
Government scientists say the epidemic is continuing to grow with the Covid-19 reproduction rate now somewhere between 1.3 and 1.6.
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The R rate is up from between 1.2 and 1.5 last week and is now the highest level since before the country went into lockdown back in March.
Various areas of the country have enforced further restrictions this week as cases in certain areas begin to creep up.
It comes as data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that cases of the virus were “levelling off”.
This week, there were around 8,400 cases a day of the virus in private households – yet last week there were 9,600.
The R rate 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.
According to government guidance an R rate between 1.3 and 1.6 means that on average, for every ten people infected, another 13 to 16 people will catch the virus.
The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is now between five per cent and nine per cent.
This means that the number of new infections is growing by five per cent to nine per cent every day.
However, 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.
The figures today come after experts at Imperial College London earlier this week claimed that the R rate could be as low as 1.1, as “infections slow”.
This has been calculated based on tests carried out on more than 80,000 volunteers in England between September 18 and 26.
Experts have said the early findings suggest that new cases are slowing down and that the newer measures such as the rule of six and curfews seem to be working.
The latest figures published today by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government, shows that the R rate for England is between 1.2 and 1.6.
The East of England has the lowest range, from 1.0 to 1.3, followed by the South West and South East at 1.1 to 1.4.
In the North West and North East – both of which have seen local lockdowns in recent days have an R rate between 1.2 to 1.5 and 1.2 to 1.6 respectively.
Earlier this week Professor Chris Whitty said said the two regions had seen a “rapid increase” in infections.
Meanwhile, the Midlands sits at an R rate of 1.2 to 1.5 with a growth rate of three to eight per cent.
London – where Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for further restrictions, currently has an R rate of 1.2 to 1.6 with a growth rate of three to nine per cent each day.
It comes after experts yesterday said cases across the UK were “flattening” due to the new measures which had been enforced by the government over the last few weeks.
Restrictions such as the rule of six and a broader use of face masks and coverings have been in place across the UK for several weeks now.
People will be fined £200 for not wearing a mask when required to.
You have to wear a mask on public transport and in shops. Shop workers now also have to wear masks.
Pubs and restaurants also have to close at 10pm, meaning people have been forced to cut social occasions short.
Professor Tim Spector – who heads up the team behind the app at King’s College London yesterday said: “We are confident that this flattening in the data looks real and that this might be an early sign of infection rates slowing down.
“This may be due to a number of factors including social distancing and the “rule of six”, but we can’t discount the role of less susceptible people and prior immunity in those exposed and the natural cycle of the virus.
“We still need to continue to work together to make sure this flattening off isn’t a small blip.”