BRITAIN's R rate has hit 1.4 across the UK as the mutant variation of Covid-19 takes hold.
The R rate has hit 1.5 in the South West, as infections continue to surge due to the new variant.
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The current R value – the number of people an infected person will pass Covid on to – is now estimated to be between 1.0 and 1.4.
The last estimates were published by Sage on December 23 and stated the R rate had been between 1.1 and 1.3.
The R rate must be kept below 1 to cause the outbreak to shrink. Above 1, and cases will continue to rise.
The coronavirus' natural R rate is around 3. But it can be squashed by cutting back on social contact.
New data published today suggests the R rate could be as high as 1.5 in the South West.
The new variant of Covid-19 was first discovered in the South East in September and experts have now said that it has spread to the rest of the UK.
Experts warned that it could be up to 74 per cent more transmissible than other variants already in circulation.
At present the R rate in the South East sits at 1.1 to 1.4.
The East of England has the lowest range in England and is between 1.1 and 1.3.
In London the R rate sits between 1.1 and 1.4 and despite it being one of the major hotspots in the UK, data this week revealed that cases have now started to flatten off in the capital and the rest of the South.
Despite data suggesting a flattening of cases, London Mayor Sadiq Khan this afternoon declared a major incident in the capital and said the spread of the virus is "out of control".
The new variant has now started to take hold in the West Midlands and North West, figures suggest.
In the Midlands, the R rate is between 1.1 and 1.4 and this covers both the East and West Midlands.
What does the R rate mean?
R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.
Scientists use it to predict how far and how fast a disease will spread – and the number can also inform policy decisions about how to contain an outbreak.
For example, if a virus has an R0 of three, it means that every sick person will pass the disease on to three other people if no containment measures are introduced.
It's also worth pointing out that the R0 is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly
In the North West the rate is between 1.0 and 1.4.
Merseyside is seeing a resurgence of the virus after beating record high numbers in the autumn.
In the North East and Yorkshire the rate is between 1.1 and 1.4.
A cluster of places in the region, including Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Cumbria – are among the top 20 areas with worsening case rates.
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