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Vital coronavirus R rate could be above 1 and ‘increasing’, SAGE experts claim

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The coronavirus growth rate in the UK could be increasing again, Government scientists today warned.

Experts on the SAGE panel said today there are indications that the crucial R rate – which shows the level of infection – is growing.

It is deemed safe if the level remains under 1 and in England last week it was reported to be between 0.9 and 1.1.

And the growth rate for the whole UK is now between -2% to +1% – which means the number of new infections is somewhere between growing by 1% or shrinking by 2% every day.

That's an increase from the previous estimate published last week, which was between -3% and +1%, the Mirror reports.

In a statement announcing the new figures, the Government Office for Science said: "We have been seeing indications that these values may be increasing, with estimated ranges increasing slightly from previous publications.

"Recent changes in transmission are not yet fully reflected in these estimates because the data used to calculate R and growth rate reflect the situation from a few weeks ago.

"It is also important to recognise that these are estimates, and there is a high degree of uncertainty with them."

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SAGE said it was important to consider a time lag in reviewing the figure.

But they said a different model which has less of a time delay put the value higher.

They added: "For this reason, SAGE does not have confidence that R is currently below 1 in England."

According to Government scientists, every region in the UK could have an R value as high as 1 – meaning the infection rate of the virus is growing.

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According to estimates, the North East, Yorkshire and the East of England have the lowest ranges, somewhere between 0.8 and 1.

London, the North West, South East and South West all have a figure somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1.

Sage added: "Estimates of R and growth rate per day are less reliable and less useful in determining the state of the epidemic when disease incidence or the number of deaths is low, or where there is significant variability in the population or incidence, for example during local outbreaks.

"When this is the case, estimates of R and growth rate should not be treated as robust enough to inform policy decisions alone.

"Both are average measures and will smooth over localised outbreaks or over short periods of time, which will not accurately reflect the way infections are changing throughout the region."

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