Fears of a second wave are growing after it was revealed the coronavirus R number has climbed above one in some parts of England.
The R rate, also known as the reproduction number, measures the average number of people that one infected person can pass the virus on to.
If the R rate is one or above it will spread exponentially, so government officials use the figures to decide when to ease lockdown measures.
The latest R number for the whole of the UK is between 0.8 and 0.9, and between 0.8 and one for England.
The North West and South West are currently the worst affected regions, with government data suggesting the rate is between 0.8 and 1.1. Both regions also lead the country in the highest growth rate, which reflects how quickly the number of infections are changing by the day.
If the growth rate is greater than zero then the pandemic is growing. The North West’s growth rate is estimated to be between -5 per cent and +1 per cent, while the South West is estimated between -4 per cent and +1 per cent.
London’s R rate is also reaching the threshold, with government data estimating it between 0.8 and one, while its growth rate is between -4 per cent and 0.
|R rate||Growth rate percentage per day|
|England||0.8-1||-4 to -1|
|East of England||0.7-1||-6 to -1|
|London||0.8-1||-4 to 0|
|Midlands||0.7-0.9||-6 to -2|
|North East and Yorkshire||0.7-0.9||-6 to -2|
|North West||0.8-1.1||-5 to +1|
|South East||0.8-1||03 to 0|
|South West||0.8-1.1||-4 to +1|
The government has previously said that if the R rate is above one it could lead to lockdown measures being reimposed. Last night the government announced via Twitter that restrictions would be reimposed in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire.
The new rules mean that as of midnight last night people from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens.
In a Downing Street briefing this afternoon, the Prime Minister also hit the breaks on the planned easing of restrictions, following a sharp spike in cases. Plans to reopen venues such as casinos and leisure centres have been postponed by two weeks.
“As we see rises around the world, we can’t fool ourselves that we are exempt. We must be willing to react to the first signs of trouble,” said Boris Johnson.
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, went further and said the recent ONS data “suggests we have reached the limits of what we can do in terms of opening things up in society.”