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The Covid-19 “R” rate has risen to between 0.9 and 1.1, government scientists have confirmed.
The numbers suggest there is a risk that the overall coronavirus epidemic in the UK is growing, the Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.
A report published on Friday said: “SAGE does not have confidence that R is currently below one in England.”
It comes as the government was also grappling to contain outbreaks in parts of the country, following a local lockdown in Leicester.
People in Oldham, Blackburn and parts of Pendle were told not to socialise with anyone from outside their household from midnight on Saturday to slow the spread of coronavirus, as parts of the North West narrowly avoided local lockdowns.
While preventing businesses from closing, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the measures mean social activities indoors and outdoors can only be shared by people who live in the same home.
Residents were also warned told to avoid using public transport except for essential travel.
Health secretary Matt Hancock was also set to meet with West Midlands mayor Andy Street and other local leaders in Birmingham, amid concern over a rise in cases in the city.
Northampton has also become an “area of intervention” after the latest infection rate data was published by Public Health England.
The leader of Birmingham City Council, councillor Ian Ward, said Public Health England’s categorisation of Birmingham as an “area of enhanced support” for government should be a “wake-up call for everyone”.
He said in a statement: “We will make announcements as soon as possible about what this means for the people of the city.
“If our previous warnings to keep doing the basics haven’t been enough, this has to be the wake-up call for everyone.”
Hancock said he recognised local restrictions amounted to more “sacrifices” for people, but added: “The only way we can keep on top of this deadly virus is through decisive action led by the people who know their areas best, wherever possible through consensus with a local area.
“Working with local leaders we agreed further action in Oldham, Pendle and Blackburn.
“Our approach is to make the action we take as targeted as possible, with the maximum possible local consensus.”
The Sage data also showed that the latest growth rate for the whole of the UK is between -3% to +1%, a slight change from between -4% to -1% last week.
The growth rate of coronavirus transmission reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day.