Official Covid R rate STALLS close to critical 1 as Sage fail to agree UK figure for 2nd week

THE official coronavirus R rate stalled close to the critical 1 in England.

As infections continue to fall across the country the R rate has remained stagnant at 0.8 to 1 for the third week running.

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Last week Government advisers at Sage failed to agree on the figure for across the UK because case numbers are so low.

Sage again said today: "No UK estimates for R and growth rate have been agreed."

The R rate has remained relatively constant and below 1 since February 5, having peaked on January 15 at between 1.2 and 1.3. 

The R rate reflects the outbreak with a slight lag, as it takes up to three weeks for changes in the spread of the disease to be clear.

Therefore the estimates today are unlikely to account for any impact of the Rule of 6, which came into force in England on March 29.

The R represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to, meaning currently, every patient is passing the virus onto less than one other person. 

When it's 0.8 to 1, it means that, on average, every ten people with coroanvirus will infect between eight and ten other people.

R must stay below one for the outbreak to shrink. Anything greater than one means the outbreak is growing.

It comes as:

  • Twice-weekly free rapid lateral flow tests for all available TODAY in huge Covid boost for freedom
  • Brits in 30s could be offered alternative to AstraZeneca Covid jab over rare blood clot fears
  • Spain and Italy may be added to safe list as Brits get green light to book summer holidays and free Covid tests on cards
  • Airlines warn holidays will STILL be too expensive for most Brits from May due to ‘unnecessary’ PCR tests
  • Millions of adults at risk of undetected health conditions after missing routine tests during Covid lockdown


The R number can be suppressed by limiting social contacts which is why lockdowns have been used. 

But as society opens back up, it will undoubtedly rise as people socialise with more friends and family, increasing the risk of Covid spread.

However with the triumph of vaccines, cases should remain low overall – but this is not guaranteed.

Data from Sage today shows the R rate could be as high as 1 in every region in England except the South East.

Meanwhile, the growth rate is estimated to be between -4 per cent and 0 per cent, which means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 0 and four per cent every day.

This figure has not changed from last week, either.

The release from Sage comes after experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker app yesterday revealed their R rate predictions.

The data from the app also estimates that the R rate in the UK is currently at 0.7.

App data states that regional values put England at 0.8, Wales at 0.5 and Scotland at 0.8.

The experts said that the R value reflects the significant drop in cases in the last week.

It is not clear why official estimates from Sage have not come down for three weeks.

Meanwhile, Public Health England reported data that showed cases have fallen in every part of England other than one.

And scientists say the connection between infections and deaths appears to be breaking – a sign the vaccines are working.

The data has piled pressure on the PM to unlock – as Wales today said it would ease restrictions earlier than planned.

Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people – including weddings outdoors – will be able to take place from April 26 instead of May 3.

The reopening of gyms and leisure centres will now be allowed from May 3, brought forward a week from May 10.

And two people can meet indoors from May 3 – compared to England's May 17.

It was yesterday reported that coronavirus cases have plummeted 32 per cent in a week in the UK, with 3,030 new diganosed cases.

A further 53 deaths were also reported, bringing the total to 126,980.

The rise in cases brings the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,370,321.

Today's infection figure is down from last Thursday’s figure of 4,479 – and significantly lower than the 6,219 reported a fortnight ago. 

Deaths are up very slightly from the 51 reported this time last week, but below the 63 fatalities recorded on March 25.

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