Experts say deaths and hospital admissions will continue to increase unless R drops below one for an extended period of time (Picture: PA / Getty Images)
The reproduction rate for coronavirus has dropped to between 1 and 1.2 across the UK, Government scientists say.
But Sage experts, who officially advise the Government on the pandemic, warned deaths and hospital admissions will continue to increase unless R drops below one for an extended period of time.
‘Sage is confident that the epidemic has continued to grow in England over recent weeks,’ a statement said.
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‘Although there is some evidence that the rate of growth in some parts of the country may be slowing, levels of disease are very high in these areas; significant levels of healthcare demand and mortality will persist until R is reduced to and remains well below one for an extended period of time.’
If the R value is above one then the Covid-19 pandemic continues to grow, but if it is below one it shows the virus is retreating across the country.
For the past few weeks, Sage has put the R at between 1.1 and 1.3, and said the number of new infections is growing by between 1% and 3% every day.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the highest regional Covid-19 infection rates remain in north-west England and Yorkshire and the Humber.
If the R rate is below one, it shows the virus is retreating across the country (Picture: AP)
The lowest rates continue to be in south-east England and eastern England.
The rates are estimated to have increased in the South East, South West, East Midlands and the North East, whereas some other regions appear to have levelled off.
The ONS warned caution should be taken in ‘over-interpreting any small movements’ if rates are already at high levels.
It comes as daily confirmed coronavirus cases jumped by 46% to 33,470 yesterday.
It was claimed the record-breaking increase is a result of people going out and socialising just before the second national lockdown started on November 5.
But NHS medical director Stephen Powis played down the impact of the rise at yesterday’s Downing Street press conference.
He said: ‘It’s important to look at the number of cases reported over a number of days, and not just take one day in isolation’.
Experts have previously warned that describing the daily figure as a record could be ‘misleading’ as it is not clear how many people were actually infected during the height of the first wave, due to a lack of community testing at the time.
As of yesterday, a further 563 people died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.
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