THE R rate, also known as the reproduction number, helps the government measure the rate of coronavirus infections.
It gives an indication of the number of people that one person with coronavirus is likely to pass it on to.
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What is the R rate in my area?
The latest Government data shows that the R rate for the UK as a whole is estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9.
In the South West, North West, Midlands and East of England it is 0.7-0.9.
In London, the R rate is 0.6-0.8.
In the South East it is 0.7-0.8, while in Yorkshire and the North East it is 0.8-0.9.
In Northern Ireland, the R rate is estimated to be between 0.75 and 0.85.
How can I track the R rate in my area?
Updates to the R rate are published on the government website.
Previously, the only data seen publicly was from Public Health England and researchers at the University of Cambridge, who regularly nowcast and forecast Covid-19 infections and deaths.
What is the R rate?
The R rate is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.
On February 12, 2021, Sage said the R rate in the UK had fallen below 1 – which is good news as it means the spread of the virus is slowing.
If a virus has an R rate 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 R number is a measure of how infectious a disease is, but not how deadly.
Based on estimates, the R rate can only be used as a guide rather than an up-to-the-minute representation of the pandemic.
When there are low case numbers or a high degree of variability in transmission across regions, the estimates are insufficiently robust to inform policy decisions.
Why is the R rate different across the UK?
A number of reasons could come into play here, among them the fact the R rate will tend to be higher in places with higher population densities, like large cities such as London.
Certain places which saw a large number of coronavirus cases may now also have a large number of people with immunity to the virus, while cities will also tend to have more care homes and hospitals which will affect the numbers.
There are also differences in how people live together, with people usually living in bigger family groups outside the large cities.
Similarly, places with higher levels of deprivation and poverty will affect the R rate as well.