The reproduction rate of R – a key measure of how much COVID-19 is spread – has increased in the UK in the past two weeks due to the epidemic in nursing homes, two experts suggested. foreground.
It is a measure of the number of people, on average, who will be infected for each person with the disease.
If R is one, then someone with the disease infects another person.
As long as the R value is less than one, the number of daily cases will continue to decrease.
Sir Ian Diamond, head of the Bureau of National Statistics, said he agreed with earlier comments from scientist John Edmunds, who claimed that it had gone from around 0.6 a few weeks ago due to rapid spread in nursing homes.
“This is due to the epidemic in nursing homes, he would say, and I would not object,” said Sir Ian at Downing Street. COVID-19[female[feminine press conference.
Professor Edmunds told members of the science and technology committee earlier that the R-value is currently between 0.75 and one.
This means that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has little leeway to facilitate locking without risking increased transmission and rebound coronavirus case.
And Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, speaking at the daily government briefing, said the R value was between 0.5 and 0.9.
“We have to gradually lift the measures and monitor what is happening,” said Professor Edmunds. “It would be harmful to have to lock out.
“We cannot exclude it. Measures may need to be imposed locally if an epidemic spreads, but I really hope to avoid that. “
Raab said a “very significant problem” remains in nursing homes. He said, “We certainly have a challenge in nursing homes. “
He said the total number of new infections and daily deaths “is steadily decreasing.” But he warned: “The virus is not yet defeated, it remains deadly and contagious.”
Professor Edmunds, who sits on the government’s Scientific Emergency Advisory Group (SAGE), also warned that cases must drop dramatically before contact tracing can be used to help prevent a second wave.
He warned that the system would be quickly out of date if ministers relied on contact tracing once the lockout was released next week.
Social distancing will be essential to reduce transmission of the virus, he said.
He said, “We may have 20,000 cases a day. Contacting the trace (contacts of) all of these would be a huge undertaking. It’s probably impossible at the moment.
“The incidence must go down before contact tracing is possible. “
The government used contact tracing to try to control the spread of the virus at the start of the UK epidemic.
But each case was in the immediate vicinity of around 40 people, who urgently needed to be found and isolated as a precaution.
The system was quickly outdated, with a large number of contacts that had been missed to develop COVID-19. The policy was discontinued on March 12.
“If you were to reduce the incidence now, contact tracing would play a role,” said Professor Edmunds.
“I wouldn’t want to leave it to him alone. Other measures of social distancing will therefore have to be put in place. So we will not return to a situation where contact tracing is just scratching the surface and the epidemic is out of control. »»
In addition, new research shows that people begin to move more by anticipating a relaxation of the rules of social distancing.
Scientists at University College London have said that the number of unique mobile phones used in a given area – a guide to population movements – shows that activity has increased since April 20 after a long period of decline since l announcement of the lockout in March.
Nationally, activity now reaches 60% of pre-lockout levels, down from 50% in mid-April.
Professor James Cheshire, Deputy Director of the ESRC Consumer Data Research Center at UCL, said: “Our analysis suggests that people followed the lock rules and took them very seriously in the first month or so.
“But in early May, we started to see a change with more activity in the past few days.
“People may have started to increase their movements ahead of the government’s announcement this weekend to ease the lockdown. “