The rate at which one person infected with coronavirus spreads the disease to others is rising, the Government’s scientific advisers have warned.
The scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) said the reproduction rate of Covid-19 – the R value – is now between 0.7 and 1.0 in the UK. It is up from 0.5 to 0.9 last week, with Sage warning it could reflect a rise in cases in hospitals and care homes.
Ministers have warned that the R value must stay below one if they are to continue loosening the lockdown.
Sage said the range reflects the situation three weeks ago, adding that the number of cases in care homes and hospitals may account for the figure.
The hike comes just days after Boris Johnson relaxed curbs on daily exercise and socialising in parks, and “actively encouraged” millions of employees who could not work from home to return. But experts on Sage said it was too early to notice a knock-on effect of the eased lockdown on the R value.
The R value at the peak of Britain’s crisis was thought to have been between 3.5 and four. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Downing Street press briefing that the Government was not planning to row back on lockdown easing following the rise.
Boris Johnson warned in his address to the nation on Sunday: “We must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease – the R – back up over one”. The R value combines data from hospital admissions, intensive care demand, deaths and the amount of social contacts people have.Photo Credit: Getty