Coronavirus 'growth rate' rises in East Anglia

Stay Home Save Lives advert at an Ipswich bus stop. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The coronavirus R rate has risen in the East of England - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The reinfection rate for coronavirus, known as the 'R number', has risen to 1.0 in East Anglia - indicating that the disease may be spreading at a faster rate than previously.

However, case levels have continued to fall or stay even in Suffolk, with the number of infections much lower than at the peak of the most recent wave at the start of this year.

The R rate, or growth rate, is the number of others that one infected person will pass the disease onto.

If it is below 1.0, it means the spread of the illness is slowing.

However, any value above 1.0 is a cause for concern, because those who are infected are passing it on to more people - who in turn are also infecting others.

It is not possible to be precise about the figure, because it changes depending on people's behaviour or because the level of immunity they have alters.

There is also not an R rate figure published for Suffolk - instead, the figure covers the East of England as a whole.

At the start of March, the R rate in Anglia had fallen to 0.6 to 0.8 - meaning that every 10 people infected were passing it on to between six and eight other people.

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It also showed the spread of the disease was slowing.

The figure is now 0.7 to 1.0 in the East of England, meaning a further rise would indicate the disease is spreading in the region. In England as a whole, the R rate is 0.8 to 1.0.

In Suffolk, infection levels have continued to be lower than previously.

Ipswich has shown the biggest fall in case levels. There were 57 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to March 29, compared to 83.3 per 100,000 in the week leading up to March 22.

West Suffolk showed a rise in infections, albeit a small one - from 31.3 cases per 100,000 in the seven days up to March 22, to 36.3 cases per 100,000 in the week before March 29.

Hospital admissions in Suffolk have also continued to fall, with a combination of the Covid vaccine roll-out and lockdown said to be reducing the number of the most serious cases.