BRITAIN'S R rate has risen this week as cases of the coronavirus continue to increase across the country, official data has revealed.
The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to – is now estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.2.
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This is up from last week from week when Sage experts estimated that the rate was between 0.9 and 1.
The R rate must be kept below 1 to cause the outbreak to shrink. Above 1, and cases will continue to rise.
The coronavirus' natural R rate is around 3. But it can be squashed by cutting back on social contact.
The update from Sage comes after experts at King's College London estimated that the R rate for the UK is currently around 1.1.
Data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app states that there are currently 26,897 daily new symptomatic cases of Covid-19 in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 13 December.
This is a 40 per cent increase from 19,190, seen the week before.
What does the R rate mean?
R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.
Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.
For example, if a virus has an R0 of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.
It's also worth pointing out that the R0 is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly.
The R rate estimate from the experts for the UK is 1.1, 1.1 for England, 1.2 for Wales and 0.9 for Scotland.
Sage estimates state that England currently has an R rate between 1.1 and 1.3 with a growth rate of two to four per cent a day.
The country is gearing up to enter festive bubbles next week in order to spend Christmas with family and friends.
Experts have warned that people still need to be vigilant during the Christmas relaxation period in order to stop the virus spreading further.
TIER WE GO
Looking at the R rate on a regional basis and the East of England is estimated to have an R rate between 1.1 and 1.3.
It was announced earlier this week that several areas in the East would move to Tier 3 restrictions after an uptick in cases was observed.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes and Peterborough will all be pushed into tougher restrictions on Saturday.
London has an R rate between 1.1 and 1.3 and was earlier this week pushed into Tier 3 restrictions ahead of the planned review which took place yesterday.
The Midlands has a rate between 1.0 and 1.2.
There are just two areas in the East Midlands under Tier 2 restrictions, these are Northamptonshire and Rutland.
Areas such as Derby and Derbyshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire all remain under Tier 3 restrictions as well as Birmingham, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
According to data from the King's College London team, the North East and Yorkshire is the only area to have seen a drop in cases.
The R rate here sits between 0.9 and 1.1.
Yorkshire and The Humber and the North East remain under Tier 3 restrictions but the City of York and North Yorkshire are both in Tier 2.
The North West also has an R rate between 0.9 and 1.1.
Cumbria, Liverpool City Region, Warrington and Cheshire all remain under Tier 2 restrictions, while Greater Manchester and Lancashire are in Tier 3.
In the South East the R rates sits between 1.1 and 1.3.
Kent and Medway and well as Slough are both in Tier 3 restrictions.
Medway in Kent has the highest rate in England, with 2,151 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 13 – the equivalent of 772.2 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 604.9 in the seven days to December 6.
Swale is also in the top five most infected places in the country where the rate has risen from 627.0 to 747.6, with 1,122 new cases.
Some areas in the South East though will be moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 after a further increase in cases including Surrey and Hastings.
In contrast the South West has an R rate between 0.9 and 1.2.
Bristol and North Somerset will both be moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2 this weekend.
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