he coronavirus reproduction number, or R rate, has crept up slightly across the UK whilst crucially managing to stay below 1.
The R rate in the UK is today said to between 0.7 to 0.9 and between 0.8 and 1.0 in England, according to the latest Government figures.
This is a slight increase compared to the UK figure of between 0.6 and 0.9 last week.
London and the South West have the lowest R rates and currently sit between 0.7 and 0.9.
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, but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.
A lower R rate is preferable for experts deciding on the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Sage said: “These estimates are based on the latest data, available up to 22 March, including hospitalisations and deaths as well as symptomatic testing and prevalence studies.
“These estimates represent the transmission of Covid-19 over the past few weeks.
“As R is a lagging indicator, the latest figures cannot account for the most recent policy changes, and do not yet fully reflect the re-opening of schools in England.”
Looking at the R rate on a regional basis and some areas of England could have an R rate as high as 1.
The North East and Yorkshire has the highest R rate and sits between 0.8 and 1.
This is followed by the East of England, the Midlands, the North West and the South East – each region has an R rate between 0.7 and 1.
The government intends to publish R and growth rate estimates on Friday 2 April (Good Friday).
Yesterday, another 63 people died after testing positive for coronavirus and a further 6,397 new cases were reported.Falling death rates have also been recorded this week.
The latest Government figures brings the total number of UK deaths to 126,445 and infections since the pandemic to 4,319,128.