Coronavirus in retreat across the UK as official rate of infections falls

Ellen Manning
·3 min read
A triage nurse waits for patients in the Emergency Department at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey. Picture date: 22/5/2020.
The R number refers to how many people a person with coronavirus infects on average. (PA Images)

The coronavirus “R rate” has stayed at the same level this week, the government has confirmed, remaining between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK as a whole.

The range has decreased slightly in England since last week, and now stands at 0.7-0.9.

The R number refers to how many people a person with coronavirus infects on average.

The R range is higher in some regions, with London seeing a rate of between 0.7 and 1, and between 0.8 and 1 in the Midlands.

New data on the coronavirus growth rate released for the first time by the government today shows that the rate of spread of the coronavirus infection across the UK is shrinking.

coronavirus growth rates across England
coronavirus growth rates across England

Official figures suggest that for UK as a whole, the current growth rate is minus 4% to minus 2%.

The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, and is an additional measure to the R rate for calculating the spread of COVID-19.

Growth rates provide different information from R estimates, by suggesting the size and speed of change, whereas the R value only gives data on the direction of change.

Experts say each should be considered alongside other measures of the spread of disease.

The R value and growth rate for the regions of England are:

– East of England: 0.7-0.9, minus 6% to minus 1%
– London: 0.7–1.0, minus 5% to plus 1%
– Midlands: 0.8–1.0, minus 4% to 0%
– North East and Yorkshire: 0.7-0.9, minus 5% to minus 1%
– North West: 0.7–1.0, minus 4% to 0%
– South East: 0.7–0.9, minus 5% to minus 1%
– South West: 0.6-0.9, minus 6% to 0%

Last week, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) put the overall R rate range across the UK at between 0.7 and 0.9, and 0.8-1.0 across England.

Regional values for R across England also showed that the rate could have risen above 1 in the South West, with a range of between 0.8-1.1.

An R number of above 1 means the COVID-19 outbreak is growing in that area.

The latest information on the R rate range comes as Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland advised that the coronavirus alert level be reduced from Level 4 to Level 3, which means the epidemic is in “general circulation”, rather than transmission being high or rising exponentially.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
How easing of lockdown rules affects you
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed