Coronavirus R value in England estimated to have increased to between 1 and 1.2

The average R rate for coronavirus in England is estimated to be between 1 and 1.2, according to the latest data from the UK Health Security Agency.

The R number represents the average number of people each Covid-positive person goes on to infect.

The latest estimates for R suggest the number has increased since last week, when the estimated R rate for England was between 0.9 and 1.1.

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When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially but when it is below 1, it means the epidemic is shrinking.

An R value between 1 and 1.2 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 12 other people.

The growth rate is estimated to be between +1% and +3%, which means that the number of new infections is growing by between 1% and 3% every day.

Earlier this week, Dr Jenny Harries said “quite small behavioural changes in all of us” could bring the R number down.

Addressing people who have been fully vaccinated, she said: “Don’t think not to wear a face covering, put a face covering on.

“You may be carrying an infection with you and not know. It’s really important.

“We’ve got a natural break, if you like, coming up ahead with half-term.

“Children have largely had infection and so if people adopt those behaviours and we keep the vaccination rates up and children are going forward to get their vaccinations as well over the half term, then I think that R rate can, we can all tip it down under one.”

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today estimate that around one in 55 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to October 16, up from one in 60 the previous week.

One in 55 is the equivalent of about 977,900 people.

At the peak of the second wave in early January, around one in 50 were estimated to have coronavirus.

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in all regions of England except south-east England and the West Midlands, where it appeared to level off, and north-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber, where the trend was uncertain.

In north-west England and south-west England, around one in 45 people was likely to test positive in the week to October 16.

This was the highest proportion for any region.

London and south-east England had the lowest proportion, at around one in 75.

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It comes as the government’s scientific advisers warned that ministers should ensure ‘Plan B’ restrictions can be “rapidly” brought in if they are needed.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said a further big peak in infections as seen in January was “increasingly unlikely”, as experts predict a series of broader, flatter peaks as the virus continues to spread.

However, in its meeting dated October 14, Sage warned that if measures from the government’s ‘Plan B’ are needed, then they should be brought in together for the biggest effect.

Sage said the “reintroduction of working from home guidance is likely to have the greatest individual impact on transmission out of the proposed measures” in Plan B, which includes the mandatory use of face masks.

Sage also advised that “policy work on the potential reintroduction of measures should be undertaken now so that it can be ready for rapid deployment”.

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