Covid-19 infections ‘doubling every seven to eight days’ as experts fear R rate could be 1.7

Covid infections in England are doubling “every seven to eight days”, according to data from the country’s biggest home-testing programme.

Today’s report, the third by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori for the Department of Health, estimates that the R rate — which shows how many people a person with Covid will infect — is as high as 1.7.

Last week’s official R rate was 0.9 to 1.1. A rate above one means the pandemic is growing.

A total of 152,909 swabs were collected from volunteers up to September 7, with 136 positive tests — suggesting a nationwide infection rate of 0.13 per cent, or 13 people per 10,000 population.

This compares with a rate of four per 10,000 from the last series of swabs, between July 24 and August 11. The researchers said infections were doubling every 7.7 days.

Cases were no longer clustering in hospitals or care homes, suggesting the virus is now spread more widely.

Researchers say the findings reinforce the need for “vigilance” and support the “rule of six” restrictions.

Infections are “increasing across all adult age groups below the age of 65”, with higher rates among ages 18-24. The rate is highest in Yorkshire, the North-East and the North-West.

Figures from Public Health England show fewer Covid cases have been recorded in London in the last seven days than the preceding seven.


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