BRITAIN’S official coronavirus R rate has stayed the same this week – but crept up in three regions, new figures show.
The R rate – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid onto – is between 0.6 and 0.9 across the UK, Sage said today.
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The South East, North West and the Midlands have all seen slight increases in the crucial value.
But the rate is now below 1 in every region, the latest figures show.
When the R is below 1, it means transmission is low enough for the epidemic to shrink – but greater than 1, it suggests the outbreak is growing.
The values are shown as a range, which means the true R rate most likely lies somewhere between the upper and lower estimates.
Last week, the R rate for the Midlands was between 0.6 and 0.9 and this week that’s up slightly to between 0.7 and 0.9.
In the North West the value was 0.6 to 0.9 last week and is now 0.7 to 0.9, while the South East has gone from between 0.6 and 0.8 to 0.7 and 0.9.
It’s also dropped slightly in some places – last week the North East and Yorkshire was hitting the higher end of the range at 0.7 to 1.
The R-rate is the number of people an infected person will pass Covid-19 on toCredit: Alamy Live News
However, this week it’s now dropped just below the crucial value of 1 and is at 0.7 to 0.9.
The South West has also seen a small decrease from 0.6 to 0.9 last week to 0.6 to 0.8 this week.
Elsewhere, London and the South East remain unchanged with the same range of 0.6 to 0.8.
Sage also estimates the growth rate, which reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing, is now between -6 per cent and -2 per cent.
It means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between two per cent and six per cent every day.
A Sage spokesperson said: “While estimates of the R value being below 1 in all NHS regions of England is a positive indicator, there may be more variation in transmission locally, with some evidence to suggest the rate of decline in infections could be slowing in some areas.
“A change in the lower or upper bound of the estimated ranges alone does not constitute a change in R or growth rate.
“If the ranges overlap between each week, this does not necessarily mean the R or growth rate has changed.
“A widening or narrowing of the range reflects a change in uncertainty.
What does R rate mean?
R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.
Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.
For example, if a virus has an R0 of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.
It’s also worth pointing out that the R0 is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly.
“Prevalence of the virus remains high and it remains vital everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives. “
The R and growth rate estimates are based on the latest data, available up to 22 February, including hospitalisations and deaths, as well as symptomatic testing and prevalence studies, Sage said.
They also caution that there is a delay in the estimates as scientists use a range of data sources, which can take time to collate.
The R rate peaked in the week of January 8, when it was between 1 and 1.4. It slowly rose from a low of 0.8 to 1 at the start of December.
It comes as experts have claimed that the current lockdown in the UK could be lifted sooner if cases keep falling and if the vaccine rollout continues at the current pace.
Data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker App shows that new daily cases have started to plateau to just under 10,000.
Separate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today also revealed that cases are falling across the country.
In the week up to February 19 the ONS states that cases of Covid have started to decline.
It recorded 373,700 cases, compared to 481,30 the week before.
The data from the ONS also suggests that cases have fallen across all regions in England – aside from Yorkshire & The Humber, where the experts say “the trend is uncertain”.
But graphs provided by the ONS show that cases are flatlining in the region.
It comes as:
By looking at the data on a regular basis, Prime Minister Johnson said he hopes to get Britain booming and back to near normal by June, and give every adult a vaccine by the end of July.
Sage states that R is a lagging indicator and that the estimates “cannot account for the most recent policy changes, nor changes in transmission that have not yet been reflected in epidemiological data”.
Data published by the experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker App today stated that there are currently 9,545 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average,
This, the team says, compares to a similar number of 9,242 a week ago, but down from a peak of 69,000 at the beginning of the year.
Around on in 416 people in the UK currently have symptomatic Covid.
The data also revealed that the R rate it between 0.9 and 1.0.
The estimates from the team at the ZOE app are different from the R rate release by Sage.
It comes as Government figures yesterday showed a further 323 died from Covid-19.
The figure is down by a quarter compared to the rise in deaths the same time last week.
Another 9,985 infections were confirmed, meaning 4,154,562 have now tested positive for the bug in Britain since the start of the pandemic.
The number of deaths confirmed yesterday afternoon is down by 28 per cent on last Thursday’s rise (454).
And it is less than half the size of the figure recorded the Thursday before that (678), showing signs the spread is slowing.
New cases are also down 17 per cent on last week’s rise (12,057).
They remain almost identical to the number of new infections logged on Wednesday (9,938).
The latest figures mean a total of 122,070 have now died with Covid in the UK since the start of the outbreak.