Coronavirus 'growth rate' rises again in East Anglia

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

While infection rates remain low in Suffolk, there has been a growth in the R rate for East Anglia - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The growth rate for coronavirus in East Anglia has risen for the second time in a month - showing that the disease could be spreading faster than previously.

However, case levels have continued to stay low across Suffolk, despite small rises in some districts.

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.

That grew to between 0.7 and 1.0 at the start of April, as more restrictions were eased following the national lockdown at the start of the year.

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As of April 23, the rate is at 0.8 to 1.1 for the East of England - meaning that the virus could be spreading faster.

Latest coronavirus infection rates showed rises in each district of Suffolk apart from Ipswich, albeit small rises.

In West Suffolk, there were 16.8 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to April 19, compared to 10.6 per 100,000 in the week up to April 12.

In Mid Suffolk there were 18.3 cases per 100,000, compared to 17.3 a week earlier, while East Suffolk recorded 18.8 cases per 100,000 - compared to 14.4 seven days earlier.

Babergh saw the biggest rise, from 5.4 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days up to April 12 to 16.3 a week later - but Ipswich's case rate fell from 48.9 per 100,000 to 29.9.

The past fortnight also saw a "rapid" outbreak at Ipswich Hospital, with chief executive Nick Hulme expressing fears that "vaccine complacency" could have helped the virus to spread.

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