Coronavirus R rate rises again as cases spike by 60% in a week

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·3 mins read
Women wearing face masks walk along Regent Street in London, England, on September 22, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this afternoon announced a raft of new coronavirus restrictions to apply across England, possibly to last the next six months, including requiring pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm and for retail staff to all wear face masks. A return to home working where possible is also being encouraged. The new measures come amid fears of a 'second wave' of covid-19 deaths prompted by rising numbers of people testing positive in recent weeks. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Shoppers wearing face masks in central London as the coronavirus 'R' rate rose again. (David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • COVID “R” rate rises again – it’s now between 1.2 and 1.5

  • That means every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 15 others

  • “There is widespread growth of the epidemic across the country”

  • Visit the Yahoo homepage for more stories

The UK’s coronavirus reproduction “R” rate has risen again, now ranging between 1.2 and 1.5.

It’s another demonstration of how COVID-19 infections are surging.

Last week’s R was between 1.1 and 1.4, while a separate Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey has also said infections have jumped 60% in one week.

R represents the average number of people each COVID-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

An R between 1.2 and 1.5 means that on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 15 other people.

Watch: Can the coronavirus affect the brain?

All regions of England also have an R that is higher than 1, according to the figures.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which released the R data on Friday, said: “There is widespread growth of the epidemic across the country.”

Figures are based on epidemiological data such as hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths,. This means it takes up to three weeks for changes in the spread of the virus to be reflected in the R, due to the time delay between initial infection and the need for hospital care.

Other means, such as contact pattern surveys which gather information on behaviour, and household infection surveys where swabs are performed on individuals, are also used to calculate R.

The estimates are provided by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), a subgroup of SAGE.

Later on Friday, the government said there had been a further 6,874 infections as the daily case toll approaches 7,000.

Meanwhile, the ONS infection survey, also released on Friday, found there were about 9,600 new coronavirus infections per day in England, up on 6,000 the week before.

The survey, which tests thousands of people in English homes whether they have symptoms or not, found an estimated 103,600 people had COVID-19 from 13 to 19 September, equating to about one in 500 people.

Read more: 'We're freaking out': Frontline NHS staff dreading second wave of COVID hospitalisations

The figures suggest there are three times the number of infections in the community as those being captured by daily Department of Health data.

The ONS added there is “clear evidence” of an increase in infections across all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 age group.

It comes on the same week as the government introduced a raft of new rules for England – including encouraging office staff to work from home, pubs closing at 10pm and wedding attendance being cut from 30 to 15 – aimed at restricting the spread of the virus.

However, Boris Johnson has also hinted at a second lockdown, saying the government “reserves the right to go further” if infections don’t fall.

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