Health

Coronavirus update: R number rockets – what does this mean for the UK?

The government committee SAGE said the R number could be as high as 1.6 in England, but what does this mean – especially for the people of the UK?

The R number represents the average number of people each person with coronavirus will infect.

To illustrate, SAGE noted how an R rate of 1.6 "means that on average every 10 people infected will infect 16 other people".

Last updated on Friday October 2, the government stated the "latest growth rate" of coronavirus for the UK could be as much as nine percent per day.

The most infectious areas in England are; London, the North East and Yorkshire, followed by the Midlands and North West.

SAGE has declared "that there is widespread growth of the epidemic across the country".

There isn't one area of England where the R rate is currently below 1, which is needed in order for the epidemic to shrink.

The country has seen a steep rise in coronavirus cases lately, but one must remember community testing was limited during the peak of the crisis in April.


Due to a technical blunder, there had been a delay in publishing a number of COVID-19 cases in England.

This means the total reported over the coming days will include cases not counted from September 24 to October 1.

Dr Duncan Robertson – an expert in modelling and policy analytics at Loughborough University – commented to Sky News.

"If this is a reporting delay, that is bad enough," he said. "But if there have been delays in putting these cases into the NHS Test and Trace database, that can have serious implications for spreading the disease."

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Dr Robertson continued: "We also need to know if there is commonality in the source of these cases.

"We have seen that private testing and university testing has been carried out, and it is still not clear how these results are being routed into the DHSC [Department of Health and Social Care] system."

Local lockdowns have been implemented in Liverpool and Teesside, yet Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to speculate on ITV how such a practice would work in London.

As noted above, London is one of the worst areas affected by coronavirus at the minute, yet it sits firmly on the national COVID-19 watchlist.


There are 32 boroughs in London, with the worst affected boroughs in east London.

Redbridge recorded 70 cases for every 100,000 people while neighbouring borough Barking and Dagenham reported 69 cases for every 100,000 people.

It's not yet known whether London could enter a borough-wide lockdown, or if only some boroughs would face tighter measures.

Considering the interconnectedness of London, it's not known how the second option would work in reality.


For the rest of England (as with London), citizens are taking things day to day.

Swift measures may be introduced, adding to the current confusion people already face.

For the sake of the economy, no one wants to see a national second lockdown take place.

However, if coronavirus cases continue to increase, it may be our only option.



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