THE UK’s crucial coronavirus R rate could be as high as 1.2 as the country battles with rising infections.
Its comes after weeks of the rate hovering between 0.9 and 1.1 as Brits continue to live with no restrictions.
Plan B restrictions could see a return to mandatory mask wearing and work from home ordersCredit: Alamy
Infections have been climbing and the most recent daily cases show that more than 50,000 people are reporting positive tests each day.
Fears have been circulating that so-called ‘Plan-B’ measures could be implemented if infections can’t be pushed down.
These measures would include a return to working from home and mandatory mask wearing.
It was revealed yesterday that several local councils had already been told that they would receive extra support in the form of more testing and a push for vaccines as cases continue to rise in hotspots.
The current R rate sits between 1 and 1.2, which means that on average every 10 people infected will go on to infect a further 10 to 12 people.
The growth rate is currently also between one and three per cent, meaning that the number of new infections is growing by one and three per cent every day.
The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has halted the publication of a regional R rate after a testing issue which meant that thousands of people had ‘false negative’ PCR tests.
The impact of this is being felt across the South West, South East and London.
A new cluster of infections is currently being witnessed across Gloucestershire because of the gaff and public health officials there have said that the rate is only expected to continue to climb.
While the R rate has crept up, infection data shows that prevalence in the community is currently at its highest level since January.
At present it’s estimated that one in 55 people currently have Covid-19 in the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) states.
Prevalence of infections has risen for a fourth straight week, having been at 1 in 60 people in the previous week.
The ONS estimate prevalence is at its highest since the week ending January 23.
This was shortly after England entered its third national lockdown.
Since then vaccines have been rolled out across the country and have played a part in preventing people from becoming seriously ill with the virus.
One expert today said the new data ‘is not good news’ as they are the most reliable resource the country has for judging how the virus is spreading.
Prof Jim Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and Professor of Structural Biology, University of Oxford, said: “The power of the vaccines can be seen in the much lower death and hospitalisation rate that this high level of infections is currently causing.
“This is the benefit of science, without vaccines the NHS would likely have had to triage, the economy would have suffered from a prolonged lock down and we would be facing a bleak winter.
“UK science has delivered clinical trials that introduced dexamethasone, tracked variants, studied their effects and pioneered new therapies. This is what science investment has meant and will mean for the UK.”
He added that there is evidence of ‘waning immunity’ and said that even is vaccines are ‘extremely effective’ it doesn’t mean they are ‘perfect’.
He added: “A slight decrease in immunity still means you are protected against the worst of the disease but might lead to an increase in cases.
“For those offered a booster (third) jab, science shows it is incredibly effective. I would advise taking it immediately it is offered. For those who have not had their first jab, they are almost certain to contract Covid-19 if they have not already done so.”
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