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R value increases across UK as Covid-19 epidemic grows

Infections: Staff hand out self-test kits at a coronavirus testing centre in Bolton PICTURES: PA

THE R number across the UK is between 1.2 and 1.5 and the Covid-19 epidemic is growing, scientists have said.

Experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) estimated the reproduction value — the number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to — was up on the 1.1 to 1.4 it reported in the previous week.

Sage estimates the number of new infections is growing by between 4 per cent and 8 per cent every day.

All regions of England have an R that is higher than one and all have positive growth rates.

‘An increase in the UK-wide estimate of growth rate indicates that the rate of transmission is increasing across the country,’ Sage said.

Lockdown: A sign reads ‘help us, send beer’ at the Murano Street student village in Glasgow, where university students are being tested at a pop-up test centre

It said the current low numbers of deaths does not reflect how Covid-19 is currently spreading, suggesting death rates will rise in the coming weeks.

Overall, England has an R number of 1.2 to 1.5 while London and the Midlands are both on 1.2 to 1.5.

The figure is 1 to 1.3 in the South East and 1.1 to 1.4 in the South West.

Earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the estimated number of cases of coronavirus across England had jumped 60 per cent in one week.

There were around 9,600 new coronavirus infections per day in England, up on 6,000 the week before, according to its infection survey.

The survey, which tests thousands of people in English homes whether they have symptoms or not, found an estimated 103,600 people had Covid-19 from September 13 to 19, equating to around one in 500 people.

The ONS said: ‘In recent weeks, there has been clear evidence of an increase in the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in all age groups, with the current rates highest in the 17 to 24 age group.

‘There is evidence of higher infection rates in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, London and North East.’

The data suggests there are three times the number of infections in the community as those being captured by Department of Health and Social Care data.

This looks at people with symptoms who request a test and records whether they test positive.

For the same week as that studied by ONS, this data showed around 3,000 positive tests a day in England.

It comes as Leeds and regions of Wales including Cardiff face new restrictions to tackle growing infection rates.

The ONS also estimated that during the week of September 13 to 19, 10,800 people in Wales had Covid-19, equating to one in 300 people.

An estimated 0.35 per cent of people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19, which is around one in 300 people.

Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said there had been a ‘marked’ increase in cases across England.

She added: ‘Every week we are sending out new letters to houses across the UK to ask them to take part in the Covid-19 Infection Survey to help us get more information about how the virus is spreading.

‘If you receive a letter from us, please take the time to register and help control the spread of this virus.’