Coronavirus R rate may have risen above 1 in southwest of England, experts say

12 June 2020, 18:31

The R rate in the southwest, where Durdle door is, could be above one
The R rate in the southwest, where Durdle door is, could be above one. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The coronavirus R rate may have risen above one in the southwest of England, government scientists have warned.

The Government Office for Science across the whole of the UK, the R value is estimated to be between 0.8-1.0, giving hope the virus is slowly being stamped out.

But regional figures have been published for the first time, and the estimates that the southwest has the highest rates of infection at between 0.8 and 1.1.

The east of England has the lowest at 0.7-0.9.

The R value is used to determine how fast the virus is spreading, and gives an indication as to what lockdown measures can be relaxed.

If the rate is one, then each infected person will only infect one other person.

But it if rises above that figure, each infected person could infect more than one - allowing the number of cases to rise exponentially.

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The full figures released by scientists are;

East of England: 0.7-0.9

London: 0.8-1.0

Midlands: 0.8-1.0

North East and Yorkshire: 0.7-1.0

North West: 0.8-1.0

South East: 0.8-1.0

South West 0.8-1.1

Experts say R is not the only important measure of the epidemic and it indicates whether the epidemic is trending towards getting bigger or smaller but not how large it is.

Therefore, the number of people currently infected with Covid-19 - and so able to pass it on - is very important.

R should always be considered alongside the number of people currently infected.

The estimates, published by the Government Office for Science, cover each of the NHS England regions.

As an average value, R can vary in different parts of the country, communities and subsections of the population.

It cannot be measured directly so there is always some uncertainty around its exact value.

When there are a small number of cases, estimates of R become less robust and less useful in determining the state of the epidemic.

The R values are shown as the range and the most likely estimate is in the middle of this range.

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