UK coronavirus R rate rises to between 1.1 and 1.3

23 December 2020, 14:04 | Updated: 23 December 2020, 14:59

London has the highest R rate in the UK.
London has the highest R rate in the UK. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The coronavirus reproduction R number has risen slightly to between 1.1 and 1.3, according to the government's SAGE advisers.

This is a rise from last week, when the number was put at between 1.1 and 1.2. At the end of the November lockdown it was 0.8 to 1.0.

The latest figures means that every 10 people will go on to infect between 11 and 13 other people, meaning the pandemic is growing in the UK.

London currently has an R rate of 1.2 to 1.5 and the highest growth rate in England, with 4 to 8 percent more people infected each day.

SAGE warn that the latest figures are time delayed, so "do not yet fully reflect any very recent changes in transmission".

Read more: Covid-19 crisis in numbers: LBC brings you the stats you need to know

Read more: Paramedic's desperate plea for public to wear masks around emergency workers

Tighter coronavirus restrictions are expected to be announced for more areas of England, at a press conference this afternoon.

Matt Hancock is expected to move Birmingham and more areas of the south of England into Tier 4.

Areas that are currently in lower tiers could be moved to Tier 3, as fears grow over a surge of cases driven by the more infectious strain of Covid-19.

There are concerns that the new strain, which is estimated to be 70 percent more infectious, may increase the R rate by 0.4 to 0.93 compared to the previous strain of Covid-19.

Tuesday saw the biggest daily rise of Covid cases in the UK since mass testing began. 36,804 cases were recorded in 24 hours, with the death toll climbing by 691.

Latest R rate by region:

- England: 1.1 to 1.4

- East of England: 1.2 to 1.5

- London: 1.2 to 1.5

- Midlands: 1.0 to 1.2

- North East and Yorkshire: 0.9 to 1.1

- South East: 1.2 to 1.4

- South West: 1.0 to 1.2

Read more: New Covid strain: Where is the new variant in the UK and where did it come from?

Read more: Supermarket Covid rules explained as Tesco introduces buying limit on some products

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has written to the Prime Minister to say his party would back any Government moves to tighten restrictions if that is what scientists recommended.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari on the subject, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said if extra measures are needed then the Prime Minister should "just get on with it."

Adding "people need to know where they stand," he said while we all hate restrictions "dithering and delay" is often worse.

To try and prevent the spread, rapid Covid-19 tests are also set to be rolled out to another 17 local council areas across England.