Covid: UK R number stays steady but number of daily new infections growing at faster rate

Ambulances parked outside the ExCeL in east London which is the site of one of a number of Nightingale hospitals prepared last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and which the NHS says is being reactivated and made ready to admit patients as hospitals in the capital struggle as Covid patients numbers rise.

The reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK now stands at between 1.2 and 1.3, but the growth of infections is rising.

R represents the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect - when that figure is above 1.0, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

Last week's data put the R range for the UK at 1.0 to 1.4.

When the UK was under full national lockdown in March, ministers said the R number needed to be consistently below 1.0 before restrictions could be lifted.

A nationwide lockdown was brought forward following a sharp rise in Covid cases Credit: PA

The latest growth rate - the number of new infections - stands between 2% and 5%.

That means the number of new Covid cases rising by 2-5% each day.

Last week's data put the growth rate for the UK at 0% to +6% per day.

The estimates by the government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are based on the latest data, available up to January 11.

Sage said the figures more accurately represent the average situation over the past few weeks rather than the present situation.

The 'stay at home' rule is lifted from March 29 Credit: PA

It's unlikely the impacts of England's new national lockdown - and a similar tightening of restrictions across the other nations - will show in the data until next week.

The ranges for the growth rates and R number have narrowed for the UK England and most regions, experts said, which reflects greater certainty around the estimates.

Here's a breakdown of how the R value and growth rate compare across the country.

Regional R Numbers

  • England - 1.1 to 1.3

  • East of England - 1.0 to 1.3

  • London - 0.9 to 1.2

  • Midlands - 1.2 to 1.4

  • North East and Yorkshire - 1.1 to 1.3

  • North West - 1.2 to 1.5

  • South East - 1.0 to 1.2

  • South West - 1.2 to 1.5

If the R number is 1.1, it means each person with coronavirus is passing it to 1.1 people.

The growth rate of coronavirus transmission reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day.

Regional growth rates

  • England +1 to +4

  • East of England 0 to +4

  • London -2 to +3

  • Midlands +2 to +6

  • North East and Yorkshire +2 to +5

  • North West +3 to +7

  • South East -1 to +3

  • South West +4 to +7