Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Coronavirus R-rate could be ABOVE the dreaded figure of one in England

The R rate of the coronavirus in England could be higher than the dreaded number of one, according to a leaked government document — but health chiefs today insisted the figure was still between 0.7 and 0.9. 

Keeping the rate below one is considered key to easing lockdown because it means the outbreak is shrinking as not everyone who catches it passes it on.

If the figure rises higher, it means people infected with the virus are spreading it to others at a rate faster than one-to-one, which could see the disease spiral out of control once again.

A document from Public Health England, seen by the HuffPost, showed PHE admitted there is ‘uncertainty’ about the number, which is always an estimate and not actually measurable.

Government advisers today claimed the R rate for the UK and England remains between 0.7 and 0.9 for the third week in a row. But they admitted it could be as high as 1.0 in the North West.

Number 10’s scientific advisory panel SAGE today also revealed the growth rate — how the number of new daily cases is changing day-by-day — is still between minus four and minus two per cent. 

In other coronavirus developments in Britain today: 

  • Between 1,900 and 3,200 people are catching the coronavirus every day in England, according to data from King’s College London and the Office for National Statistics;
  • Fewer than half of people in England referred to NHS Test and Trace after testing positive for coronavirus have given any details of their close contacts, shocking data revealed;
  • A rail union leader warned of a national strike unless the Government gives ‘unequivocal assurances’ that the social distancing rules across the transport network will remain at two metres; 
  • Councils begged the Government for more cash to stave off bankruptcy – with Manchester facing a £166m loss and Wiltshire smarting from a £51m shortfall even after emergency funding was taken into account;
  • More than half a million criminal cases have been delayed from being heard in court because of the coronavirus pandemic – with the backlog expected to last until Easter.

If the R rate rises above one Britain's outbreak will start to grow again. A rate of 0.5, for example, would mean every 10 infected people pass it on to only five others, while a rate of 1.2 would see them give it to 12

If the R rate rises above one Britain's outbreak will start to grow again. A rate of 0.5, for example, would mean every 10 infected people pass it on to only five others, while a rate of 1.2 would see them give it to 12

If the R rate rises above one Britain’s outbreak will start to grow again. A rate of 0.5, for example, would mean every 10 infected people pass it on to only five others, while a rate of 1.2 would see them give it to 12

A Government spokesperson said the leaked PHE document, dated last Thursday before the most recent official announcement, does not change the latest estimate of R.

They said: ‘SAGE was totally clear when the most recent UK R rate was released last Friday that it stood at 0.7-0.9. The rate for England was also 0.7-0.9.’

The official also said the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that the number of infections is declining — with just 3,200 people being infected in England each day.  

And they added that all of the figures were signed off by SAGE, the government scientific advisory panel which includes PHE representatives.

The leaked document, published by HuffPost, shows PHE unable to rule out that the R rate of the coronavirus could be above 1 in England, and also estimating that there are 7,000 new coronavirus infections every day

The leaked document, published by HuffPost, shows PHE unable to rule out that the R rate of the coronavirus could be above 1 in England, and also estimating that there are 7,000 new coronavirus infections every day

The leaked document, published by HuffPost, shows PHE unable to rule out that the R rate of the coronavirus could be above 1 in England, and also estimating that there are 7,000 new coronavirus infections every day

WHAT IS THE GROWTH RATE AND R RATE ACROSS ENGLAND? 

AREA

ENGLAND 

WALES

SCOTLAND

N IRELAND

UK

EAST 

LONDON

MIDLANDS

NORTH EAST 

NORTH WEST

SOUTH EAST

SOUTH WEST 

R RATE 

0.7-0.9

0.7-1.0

0.6-0.8 

0.5-0.9 

0.7-0.9 

0.7-0.9

0.6-0.9

0.7-0.9

0.7-0.9

0.7-1.0

0.7-0.9

0.6-0.9 

GROWTH RATE

-5% to -2%

NOT GIVEN 

NOT GIVEN

NOT GIVEN 

-4% to -2% 

-6% to 0%

-6% to 0%

-4% to 0%

-4% to 0%

-5% to 0%

-6% to -1%

-7% to 0% 

The paper from PHE also contained a line showing that the government agency predicts 7,000 people per day are catching the coronavirus in England.

The estimate is considerably higher than those produced by the Office for National Statistics, the COVID Symptom Tracker team at King’s College London, or even stats from scientists working within PHE alongside the University of Cambridge.

ONS data today suggested the number of daily infections in the community — not including hospital or care home patients — was around 3,200. 

And updated estimates from the King’s College team this morning suggested it was as low as 1,978 — although their data is based only on people who actually have symptoms.

One medical professional speaking to HuffPost about the document said the information should be publicly available and that was a ‘pain’ that PHE couldn’t publish it without Government consent.

They said: ‘There’s nothing in it that justifies secrecy and it’s not as though the virus is listening in to what we’re saying so it could adapt its strategy.

‘The fact that we have to ask if we can share these things is crazy. It’s even crazier that we might be told no.’

The R rate of the virus denotes how fast the outbreak is spreading, and represents the number of other people an average person with the disease infects.

An R of 1 means it spreads one-to-one and the outbreak is neither growing nor shrinking. 

Higher, and the epidemic will get larger as more people get infected; lower, and the outbreak will shrink and eventually fade away.

At the start of Britain’s outbreak it was thought to be around 4 and tens of thousands of people were infected, meaning the number of cases spiralled out of control. 

King's College London 's COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that just 2,341 Britons are being struck down with the coronavirus every day. Last week they used this data to estimate that there were 3,612 people catching the virus every day in Britain and roughly 4,942 people the week before that. The figure was higher than 11,000 per day a month ago

King's College London 's COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that just 2,341 Britons are being struck down with the coronavirus every day. Last week they used this data to estimate that there were 3,612 people catching the virus every day in Britain and roughly 4,942 people the week before that. The figure was higher than 11,000 per day a month ago

King’s College London ‘s COVID Symptom Tracker app estimates that just 2,341 Britons are being struck down with the coronavirus every day. Last week they used this data to estimate that there were 3,612 people catching the virus every day in Britain and roughly 4,942 people the week before that. The figure was higher than 11,000 per day a month ago

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE REALLY DIED?

Department of Health: 42,461

Department of Health’s latest death count for all settings stands at 42,461.

The daily data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities. 

It also only takes into account patients who tested positive for the virus, as opposed to deaths suspected to be down to the coronavirus.  

Individual health bodies: 32,710

The Department of Health has a different time cut-off for reporting deaths, meaning daily updates from Scotland as well as Northern Ireland are always out of sync. Wales is not affected, however.

NHS England today revealed it has registered 28,221 lab-confirmed deaths across the country. But the figure only applies to hospitals — meaning fatalities in care homes are excluded from this count.

Scotland has recorded 2,470 coronavirus deaths among patients who have tested positive for the virus, followed by 1,475 in Wales and 544 in Northern Ireland. These tolls include fatalities in all settings. 

National statistical bodies: 52,664

Data compiled by the statistical bodies of each of the home nations show 52,664 people died of either confirmed or suspected Covid-19 across the UK by the end of May.

The real number of victims will be even higher because the tally only takes into account deaths that occurred up until June 7 in Scotland and June 5 in the rest of Britain, meaning it is up to 10 days out of date.

The Office for National Statistics yesterday confirmed that 47,820 people in England and Wales died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 by May 29.

The number of coronavirus deaths was 774 by the same day in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

National Records Scotland — which collects statistics north of the border — said 4,070 people had died across the country by June 7.

Their tallies are always 10 days behind the Department of Health (DH) because they wait until as many fatalities as possible for each date have been counted, to avoid having to revise their statistics.

Excess deaths: 64,402

The total number of excess deaths has now passed 64,000. 

Excess deaths are considered to be an accurate measure of the number of people killed by the pandemic because they include a broader spectrum of victims.

As well as including people who may have died with Covid-19 without ever being tested, the data also shows how many more people died because their medical treatment was postponed, for example, or who didn’t or couldn’t get to hospital when they were seriously ill.

Data from England and Wales shows there has been an extra 58,693 deaths between March 21 and June 5, as well as 4,769 in Scotland between March 23 and June 7 and 940 in Northern Ireland between March 21 and June 5. 

The R has now been consistently below one since at least April, according to the Government, but experts say it will start to fluctuate more as the number of cases gets lower.

The fewer cases there are, the greater the chance that one or two ‘super-spreading’ events will seriously impact the R rate estimate, which are at least three weeks behind. 

This would normally be absorbed in the average if there are thousands of cases, but could cause a spike in the value if there are only dozens of infections.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, explained this month that the UK is approaching the point where the R will no longer be an accurate measure for this reason.

Professor Carl Heneghan, a statistician at the University of Oxford, told MailOnline: ‘There is a problem with using the R rate now, as infection comes down to very low levels. 

‘The R will fluctuate, so you would expect the R to become a less accurate measurement of the epidemic.

‘No-one will get a handle on the R rate when 80 per cent of people are asymptomatic and the virus is circulating at such low levels.

‘What really matters is looking at data such as hospital admissions, 999 calls, GP consultation rates and NHS 111 interactions. And when we look at these, all of them are reassuringly coming down.’

For the UK as a whole, the current growth rate, reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is minus 4 per cent to minus 2 per cent. 

If the growth rate is greater than zero, and therefore positive, then the disease will grow, and if the growth rate is less than zero, then the disease will shrink.

It is an approximation of the change in the number of infections each day, and the size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change. It takes into account various data sources, including government-run Covid-19 surveillance testing schemes.

For example, a growth rate of 5 per cent is faster than a growth rate of 1 per cent, while a disease with a growth rate of minus 4 per cent will be shrinking faster than a disease with growth rate of minus 1 per cent.

Neither measure – R or growth rate – is better than the other but each provides information that is useful in monitoring the spread of a disease. Experts say each should be considered alongside other measures of the spread of disease.

Separate figures released today showed fewer than half of people referred to NHS Test and Trace after testing positive for coronavirus have given any details of their close contacts.

Of the 20,968 people assigned to England’s 25,000 contact tracers, only 10,058 have actually given information that the tracers could follow up (48 per cent).

In its report this week, the Department of Health said the people who were unable to give contact details were ones who had only come into contact with complete strangers, such as on the bus.

The staggering number suggests that an app – which automatically links people’s phones so it can alert people who don’t know one another – may be necessary for contact tracing to work perfectly.

From the infected people who have been successfully contacted themselves, two thirds of them were able to give details of one or more close contacts.

BETWEEN 1,900 AND 3,200 PEOPLE IN ENGLAND ARE CATCHING COVID-19 EACH DAY, DATA SHOWS 

Between 1,900 and 3,200 people are catching the coronavirus every day in England, according to data from King’s College London and the Office for National Statistics.

The estimates are taken from King’s College’s COVID Symptom Tracker app, which predicts 1,978 people in England catching the virus, and population swab testing by the ONS which put the figure at approximately 3,142. 

Both estimates are down from last week, when the figures were between 3,300 and 3,800 – but ONS statisticians warned the shrinking of England’s outbreak has levelled off. 

It thinks the total number of people with Covid-19 at any given point has risen in the past fortnight from around 33,000 on June 12 to 51,000 today, June 25. 

It comes after Boris Johnson this week dramatically unwound the coronavirus lockdown, bringing the country out of ‘hibernation’ — with a return for pubs, haircuts and weddings and family and friends getting the green light to meet up indoors for the first time in months. 

The Prime Minister said he wanted to ‘make life easier’ after an ‘incredibly tough time’ with bars, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers in England able to get back up and running from July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

Between June 17 and the system’s launch at the start of the month, 15,225 confirmed coronavirus patients have been successfully reached by contact tracers.

But more than one in three – 5,167 people – were ‘not able’ to give details of a single person they may have come into close contact with. A further 5,062 people who tested positive could not be reached at all by contact tracers – who phone, text and email someone 10 times a day to get hold of them.

Today’s update revealed that a total of 134,893 people – people who have tested positive, and their contacts – have been in touch with NHS Test and Trace in three weeks.

One scientist said the statistics today were ‘worrying’ and could only be solved with better co-operation from the public – not by the Government.

Between 1,900 and 3,200 people are catching the coronavirus every day in England, according to other data released today by King’s College London and the Office for National Statistics.

The estimates are taken from King’s College’s COVID Symptom Tracker app, which predicts 1,978 people in England catching the virus, and population swab testing by the ONS which put the figure at approximately 3,142. 

Both estimates are down from last week, when the figures were between 3,300 and 3,800 – but ONS statisticians warned the shrinking of England’s outbreak has levelled off. 

It thinks the total number of people with Covid-19 at any given point has risen in the past fortnight from around 33,000 on June 12 to 51,000 today, June 25. 

It comes after Boris Johnson this week dramatically unwound the coronavirus lockdown, bringing the country out of ‘hibernation’ — with a return for pubs, haircuts and weddings and family and friends getting the green light to meet up indoors for the first time in months. 

The Prime Minister said he wanted to ‘make life easier’ after an ‘incredibly tough time’ with bars, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers in England able to get back up and running from July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

WHAT IS THE R NUMBER? AND HOW IS IT CALCULATED? 

WHAT IS R?

Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’.

The R0 is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect if nobody has any immunity to a virus.

Once the illness has been circulating in a population this is adjusted to just an R, which is a relative number that fluctuates as it takes into account some levels of immunity in the population (people who have already had it) and measures such as lockdown which are designed to reduce the R. 

The R would typically be higher if there were a lot of infections or loose lockdown rules, and lower if there were not many infections and lockdown rules were tighter.

WHAT IS THE R0 FOR COVID-19?

The R0 value for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was estimated by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team to be 2.4 in the UK before lockdown started.

But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark.

Estimates of the R0 vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment.

It will spread faster in a densely-populated city where people travel on the subway than it will in a rural community where people drive everywhere.

HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER VIRUSES?

It is thought to be at least three times more contagious than the coronavirus that causes MERS (0.3 – 0.8).

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, and has an R0 value of 12 to 18 if left uncontrolled. Widespread vaccination keeps it suppressed in most developed countries.

Chickenpox’s R0 is estimated to be between 10 and 12, while seasonal flu has a value of around 1.5.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A LOW R?

The higher the R value, the harder it is for health officials control the spread of the disease.

A number lower than one means the outbreak will run out of steam and be forced to an end. This is because the infectious disease will quickly run out of new victims to strike. 

HOW IS IT CALCULATED?

Experts use multiple sources to get this information, including NHS hospital admissions, death figures and behavioural contact surveys which ask people how much contact they are having with others.

Using mathematical modelling, scientists are then able to calculate the virus’ spread.

But a lag in the time it takes for coronavirus patients to fall unwell and die mean R predictions are always roughly three weeks behind. 

The R could in theory be estimated by watching how the number of people testing positive changes over time, but this is tricky in the case of Covid-19 because so many people do not get symptoms or don’t get tested. At least two-thirds of cases are estimated to happen without an official diagnosis in the UK.

.