England’s Covid R rate has could now be above 1, scientists advising the government have said.
A regional breakdown of the R rate in England suggests it has increased, or remained unchanged, in every area of the country.
It comes nearly three weeks after the most substantial lifting of lockdown since last year, with pubs and non-essential shops allowed to reopen on April 12.
Official figures published on Friday suggest the nationwide R rate is between 0.8 and 1.1. Last week it was between 0.8 and 1.0.
R measures the number of people, on average, that each sick person will infect.
If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is generally seen to be growing; if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking.
Here’s what the R rate is in each region of England
In England, the R rate is 0.8 to 1.1 (up from 0.8 to 1.0)
East of England – 0.8 to 1.1 (unchanged)
London – 0.8 to 1.1 (unchanged)
Midlands – 0.7 to 1.0 (up from 0.7 to 0.9)
North-east and Yorkshire – 0.8 to 1.0 (up from 0.7 to 1.0)
North-west – 0.7 to 0.9 (unchanged)
South-east – 0.8 to 1.0 (up from 0.7 to 0.9)
South west – 0.8 to 1.2 (up from 0.7 to 1.1)
The estimates are provided by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Sage and DHSC said “particular care should be taken” when interpreting the regional estimates in England.
“They are based on low numbers of cases or deaths and/or dominated by clustered outbreaks. They should not be treated as robust enough to inform policy decisions alone,” they said.
Here’s what the R rate is in the devolved nations
In Scotland the latest figures estimate the R rate is between 0.8 and 1.0, up from 0.7 to 0.9.
In Wales it is estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.0, down from 0.7 to 1.2.
And in Northern Ireland, the latest figures suggest R is estimated to be between 0.7 and 1.05, which is unchanged from last week.
Previously a UK-wide figure for R was published, but this has now been been dropped.
Sage said that, given the “increasingly localised approach” to managing the epidemic, “UK-level estimates are less meaningful than previously and may not accurately reflect the current picture”.
Despite the latest official figures suggesting R has creeped above 1 in England, separate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published on Friday said the number of people estimated to have Covid has dropped 40% in a week.
The data, which covers only private households, shows an estimated 54,200 people were likely to have tested positive in the week to April 24, down from 90,000 the previous week.
This means around one in 1,010 people in private households in England had Covid in the week to April 24, down from one in 610.
It is the lowest figure since the week to September 5, when the estimate stood at one in 1,400.