R value is ‘close to tipping point’ in all parts of England

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The rate of transmission of Covide-19 is close to the point where the disease could begin to spread out of control in all parts of England.Official figures released yesterday revealed that the number of R values, which shows the rate of reproduction of the virus, was close to 1 in all regions of the country.

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This is the first time that the government has published regional R values for England, which show that all but two regions of England have an R value of between 0.8 and 1.

Regional figures

Figures showed that the Southwest has a transmission rate of between 0.8 and 1.1, meaning that the region could see an increase in the spread of the disease.

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

London, the Midlands, the north-west and south-east have R values of 0.8-1.0, and the north-east and Yorkshire are at 0.7-1.0. Experts said the most likely figure would fall into the middle of the range of numbers.

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Professor Stephen Powis said the number of R’s is less than one, which is the most important thing (Photo: ANDREW PARSONS/10 Downing Street/AFP/Getty)

Lla The Government Science Office insisted that the overall value of R for the UK as a whole remained between 0.7 and 0.9.

Ministers have repeatedly said that they want to keep the R-value below 1 in order to further ease the lockdown restrictions.

Critical

Professor Stephen Powis of NHS England told the Daily Downing Street Briefing that “the important thing is that the central projection for each of these regions is less than one.”

Matt Keeling, professor of populations and diseases at the University of Warwick, said: “All ranges are closer to the critical threshold of R-1 that we would ideally like to see – which means the epidemic is decreasing relatively slowly.

“It also means that we don’t have much room for further easing of social distancing.”

But experts cautioned against using regional R values, warning that as the number of infections decreases, regional R values become less reliable.

Instead, starting next week, the government will publish growth rates for regions that are data-based and make fewer assumptions.

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