Sage scientists 'no longer confident' that coronavirus R number is currently below 1 in England

The R rate has increased across parts of the country. Credit: PA

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is unconvinced that the current rate of coronavirus infection is below one in England.

The 'R number', as it is known, is as high as 1.1 in parts of the country but needs to be kept below one to maintain control of the virus.

The release of the figures comes on the day, Boris Johnson announced the pausing on planned lockdown easing.

Parts of the north-west have already been placed in localised lockdowns and now the whole of Greater Manchester and east Lancashire are facing greater restrictions on rules.

The rate of coronavirus infection in the north west and south west has risen above one, the scientists advising the government have said.

In both the north west and south west, the growth rate of infections is at +1, showing the epidemic is speeding up in those areas.

Data released on Friday revealed the growth rate is now between minus 4% to minus 1%, compared with a rate of minus 5% to minus 1% per day, last week.

A growth rate between minus 1% to minus 4% means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1% to 4% every day.

“However, we are starting to see early indications that these values may be increasing," the report said.

“This is not yet reflected in these estimates because the data used to calculate R and growth rate reflect the situation from a few weeks ago.”

Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says.

According to the ONS, between July 20 and 26 there were around 0.78 new Covid-19 infections for every 10,000 people in the community population in England.

This is equal to around 4,200 new cases per day.

This is up from an estimated 2,800 new cases a day in the previous week.