Coronavirus R number may have risen above 1 in parts of England, govt says #COVID19 #coronavirus #UK #pandemic

Coronavirus Alert

The coronavirus reproduction rate may have risen above 1 in parts of England, government scientists have said.

Official figures indicate the rate – known as the R number – is between 0.8 and 1.0 across the whole of England.

This range is slightly higher than for the entire UK, where it remains between 0.7 and 0.9.

But in the southwest of England, the Government Office for Science said it was between 0.8 and 1.1. The group said the most likely estimate was in the middle of the range.

The figure is crucial in guiding the government’s gradual relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures.

If the R value is one, each infected person will on average pass COVID-19 on to one other.

If it is above one, it means the number of coronavirus cases will increase exponentially.

However, if the R number is below one, the disease will eventually peter out as not enough new people are being infected to sustain the outbreak.

Speaking at Friday’s Downing Street coronavirus news briefing, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News correspondent Ashish Joshi that he would not “rule anything out” when it comes to imposing localised lockdowns in areas where the R number was higher than 1.

But NHS England’s medical director Stephen Powis said the R number was not the only important piece of data scientists are looking at to control the virus as the lockdown eases.

The Office of National Statistics said on Friday that the percentage of people in the community who have the virus had fallen from around 0.4% at the end of April to 0.06% in the two weeks to June 7.

The government has said that when there are only a small number of cases, R rate estimates become less robust and less useful in determining the state of the epidemic.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted last week that the number of cases was higher in some regions, and said local lockdowns could be introduced if there were flare-ups.

“You’re right that the R is closer to one in the South West and in the North West, the advice from SAGE is that R is below one in all regions,” he said.

“However, we want to increasingly have an approach in tackling local lockdowns where we spot a flare-up.”

Courtesy of Sky News

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