THE infamous “R” rate is currently guiding the Government’s coronavirus response, as each of the planned phases depend on how infectious Covid-19 is.
The rate has emerged during several Downing Street briefings, with both officials and the Prime Minister.
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What is the R rate in your area?
In the latest coronavirus lockdown review Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said the current R rate across the UK is between 0.7-0.9.
But he did caution that it may be very close to 1 in some places, and said it means that “54,000 new cases are occurring every week”.
“That is not a low number, so it’s worth remembering that we still have a significant burden of infection, we are still seeing new infections every day at quite a significant rate and the R is close to one,” he added.
Last week the number was estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.
Why is the R rate different across the UK?
While this is difficult to measure, a number of reasons could come into play here, among them the fact the R rate will tend to be higher in places with higher population densities, like large cities such as London.
Certain places which saw a large number of coronavirus cases may now also have a large number of people with immunity to the virus, while cities will also tend to have more care homes and hospitals which will affect the numbers.
There are also differences in how people live together, with people usually living in bigger family groups outside the large cities.
Similarly, places with higher levels of deprivation and poverty will affect the R rate as well.
How do you track it every day
Public Health England together with researchers at the University of Cambridge are working to regularly nowcast and forecast Covid-19 infections and deaths.
This is real-time tracking of the pandemic, as data accumulate over time, and is an essential component of a public health response to a new outbreak.
Click here to see the latest R rate in your area.
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What is the optimum R rate?
The so-called “R number” is now between 0.7 and 1.0 — it needs to be kept below one.
Below R1 is the important bit because it means the virus will likely peter out.
The R rate needs to be below 1 for the UK to move out of lockdown.