England R number rises to between 1 and 1.1, Sage figures show

28 May 2021, 15:28

The next easing of restrictions is due on June 21, but plans have been thrown into doubt
The next easing of restrictions is due on June 21, but plans have been thrown into doubt. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

The R number in England may have risen above one for the first time since January, according to the latest figures from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

The R range for England is now 1.0 to 1.1, meaning that every ten people with coronavirus will infect between 10 and 11 other people.

This means that the epidemic in England is growing again.

There are variations across different regions in England – in London the range is 1.0 to 1.2, whereas in North East it is 0.8 to 1.0.

The overall figure is the highest it has been since January 15, when the range was 1.2 to 1.3.

The R number rise is in accordance with a slight rise in cases seen over recent days.

However, it is not yet known whether the rise in cases is a result of a number of local hotspots – particularly of the Indian variant – or whether it is reflective of a UK-wide trend.

Local hotspots can sometimes skew the data, and give an R number which is not representative of the region or country as a whole.

A rise in cases was expected as restrictions eased.

It is hoped that vaccinations will ‘break the link’ between cases and subsequent deaths and hospitalisations - meaning that a rise in cases might not be followed by a rise in the number of people in hospital or dying from the virus.

The extent to which this is happening is not yet known, although early data is promising, with Public Health England (PHE) saying that vaccines have so far prevented 40,000 hospitalisations and 13,000 deaths.