Latest coronavirus R rate rises above 1

The areas of Suffolk with the most new coronavirus cases have been mapped (stock image) Picture: CHA

The areas of Suffolk with the most new coronavirus cases have been mapped (stock image) Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The latest coronavirus R rate for the east of England has been revealed, and could be as high as 1.3, according to new public health data.

Government officials have just released the latest number for our region, which currently stands at 1.0 to 1.3.

The England average is between 1.2 and 1.4, public health experts at SAGE have revealed this afternoon.

An R number between 1.2 and 1.4 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 14 other people.

How does the R rate for the east of England compare?

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Across England, the highest rates are seen in the North West and Midlands, which have an R number between 1.2 and 1.5, and the South West, which ranges from 0.9 to 1.6.

The R number for the east of England is the second lowest out of the seven NHS regions and its growth rate is the lowest in England.

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It includes Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, all of which have reasonably low coronavirus infection rates compared to the rest of the country.

MORE: Latest coronavirus infection rates revealed – check the numbers in your area

It means that the number of coronavirus infections in the east is growing at a slower rate than most areas of the country, and with lower case numbers, the spread is also likely to be slower in our communities.

However, public health chiefs in Suffolk are continuing to urge people not to be complacent, noting a rise in cases in the west of the county over the past fortnight.What is the R rate and how is it estimated?

The ‘R’ reproduction number is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.

So if the R number is 1, on average, every person infected will infect one other person. This means the total number of infections is stable.

If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects two more people, and so on.

Experts say if R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing, but if it is less than 1, it is shrinking.

At the moment, it is SAGE’s expert view that this week’s estimates are reliable, and that there is widespread growth of the epidemic across the country.

What is the growth rate?

Experts say the growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing daily.

It is an estimate of the percentage change in the number infections each day. If the growth rate is greater than 0 (+ positive), then the epidemic is growing.

If it is less than 0 (- negative) then the epidemic is shrinking.

What does this mean for our region?

Suffolk and north Essex are continuing to record low case numbers and the region currently has a low growth rate.

This means that, at the moment, the spread of the virus is likely to be less aggressive than it is in areas with higher case numbers and higher growth rates.

England’s worst-hit area of Bolton recorded 546 coronavirus cases in the past week.

It is in the North West region, where the growth rate is +3 to +8.

This means the number of new infections is growing by 2% to 7% every day.

In the east of England region, the number of new infections is growing by 0% to 4% each day.

Could the R rate be higher than the Government’s estimate?

Data from Imperial College London published last Friday indicated that the prevalence of coronavirus was doubling every 7.7 days.

The research estimated the R number to be at 1.7.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said: “What we are seeing is evidence of an epidemic in the community and not a result of increased testing capacity.

“This is a critical time and it’s vital that the public, our health system and policy-makers are aware of the situation as we cannot afford complacency.”

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