Coronavirus R number now between 1.2 and 1.5, say chief scientific advisors

25 September 2020, 13:43 | Updated: 25 September 2020, 16:10

Chief scientific advisors include Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance
Chief scientific advisors include Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The coronavirus R number across the UK could now be as high as between 1.2 and 1.5, according to government advisors.

It is an increase from last week, with the R number then being between 1.1 and 1.4. The week before that, it was between 1.0 and 1.2.

The R number indicates the average number of people each person with coronavirus will go on to infect.

If the number rises above 1, it means that pandemic is growing.

The government's scientific advisory body, SAGE, said that there is now "widespread growth of the epidemic across the country".

The figure represents transmission over the last few weeks and there is a slight time lag to reporting.

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It follows Wales, Scotland and Northern and Northern Ireland raising their numbers in the past week.

On Thursday, Scotland raised its R number range to between 1.2 and 1.6. The week before, it was between 1.1 and 1.4.

Wales also raised it this week to between 0.7 and 1.2, up from 0.7 and 1.0.

Northern Ireland only gives a single figure estimate - and on Thursday it raised it from 1.2 to 1.5.

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It comes as London was been added to the national COVID-19 watchlist after reaching a "very worrying tipping point".

There are no additional measures being imposed on the capital at this stage. 620 new cases were confirmed in the capital in the last 24 hours.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London is at a very worrying tipping point right now."We’re seeing a sharp rise in 111 calls, hospital admissions, and patients in ICU.  

“The near collapse of test and trace and the resurgence of the virus means new measures to slow its spread were absolutely necessary."

In addition, Leeds is facing fresh local lockdown curbs from midnight tonight, the city's council leader said.

Judith Blake said she expected Leeds will be made an “area of intervention” and will ban households from mixing.

She said the new curbs would mirror those already in force in Bradford, Kirkless and Calderdale in West Yorkshire.

She told reporters: “We expect them to come in from midnight.”

On Wednesday, the Covid-19 rate in the city was 89.3 cases per 100,000 people - more than four times the threshold for ministers to enforce quarantine travellers returning from foreign countries.