This Morning: Matthew Wright discusses the UK R rate
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The UK’s coronavirus R rate has fallen below one for the first time since July, according to newly published Government figures. The virus’s reproduction rate is now estimated to be anywhere between 0.7 and 0.9, while last week it was between 0.7 and one. R represents the average number of people each COVID-19 positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above one, an outbreak can grown exponentially, but when it’s below one, that means the pandemic is actually shrinking.
An R number between 0.7 and 0.9 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between seven and nine other people.
The estimates for R and the growth rates are provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing on a day-to-day basis, is between minus five percent and minus two percent for the UK as a whole.
That means the number of new infections is shrinking between two percent and five percent every day.
SAGE said the estimates are based on the latest data provided to the Government.
This information includes hospital admissions and deaths, as well as symptomatic testing and prevalence studies up to February 8.
The emergency group said the estimates of the R value are below one in all NHS regions of England.
But they warned: “However, prevalence of the virus remains high, so it remains important that everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives.”
The four areas with the highest infection levels
Rutland in the Midlands continues to have the highest rate of infection, with a rolling rate of 465.9 out of every 100,000 people.
Rutland has seen its infection rate rise in the seven days to February 7 as it recorded a 102.2 percent increase in infections.
Next is Corby, also in the Midlands and right next to Rutland.
Corby has a rolling rate of 429.3 out of every 100,000 people, with a total of 310 cases in the same period of time.
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However, Corby is doing better than Rutland as it has reported a 10.7 percent fall in infections in the seven days to February 7.
Next on the list is Walsall, near Birmingham, which has recorded 1,187 new cases during the same seven-day period.
Walsall has a rolling rate of 415.8 and has seen cases drop by 11.4 percent – which shows the area could be on the mend.
Calderdale in West Yorkshire has also seen a rise in cases from 165.5 to 195.8 in every 100,000 residents.
This week, Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns confirmed a large number of the cases in her area were down to an outbreak in HMP Stocken.
The MP said the outbreak was thought to account for an estimated half of all new cases in Rutland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lay out a roadmap of easing lockdown restrictions on February 22 as the lockdown has undoubtedly helped to reduce the number of new daily Covid cases.
The vaccine rollout also offers promising news as the more people are vaccinated, the quicker the country will be able to start unlocking vital parts of the economy.
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