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Covid R rate rises to 0.8-1 in England but scientists say pandemic still shrinking

England’s R-rate has risen slightly, nearly two weeks after lockdown restrictions were eased, latest data shows.

The national figure now stands between 0.8 and 1 – up from 0.7 to 1 last week.

Infections are falling between one per cent and five per cent per day, scientists now estimate.

But London, the East of England and the South West could now have an R-rate above 1 – meaning infections are on the rise, experts believe.

The R rate measures how fast the infection is spreading or retreating – with officials desperate to keep the figure below 1.

Today the Department of Health warned that there would be more variation as infection rates fall, making figures less reliable.

The R rate could be above 1 in some parts of England, experts estimate
caption: Graphic showing Covid-19 R-Rate across England on Friday 23rd April 2021

In London, the East and South West the R rate could be as high as 1.1 – meaning that for every 10 people with Covid-19, there will be 11 new infections.

The government has released estimated rates for each region in England:

  • East of England – 0.8 to 1.1
  • London – 0.8 to 1.1
  • Midlands – 0.7 to 0.9
  • North East and Yorkshire – 0.7 to 1.0
  • North West – 0.7 to 0.9
  • South East – 0.7 to 0.9
  • South West – 0.7 to 1.1

On Monday last week non-essential shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen for the first time in months in England.

Data published yesterday reveals that 109 of the country’s 315 local authority areas have seen a week-on-week increase in Covid cases.

Doncaster has the highest infection rate in the country, Public Health England figures show, followed by Luton.

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Earlier this week Boris Johnson said that scientists “firmly believe” there will be another Covid wave “at some point” later this year.

He said at a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday that he believes his “roadmap” out of lockdown is on course, but sounded a sombre warning.

The PM said: “As we look at what is happening in other countries, with cases now at record numbers around the world, we cannot delude ourselves that Covid has gone away.

The number of new Covid cases is falling sharply
The number of new Covid cases is falling sharply

“There is nothing in the data now which makes me think we are going to have to deviate from the roadmap we have set out.

“But the majority of science opinion is still that there will be another wave of Covid at some stage this year. We must learn to live with this disease.”

Under current plans, he hopes to lift all legal restrictions by June 21, but has warned that this could be delayed if infections rise again.



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