COVID-19: ’R’ number increasing across England and highest in North West

Women wearing face masks against coronavirus       Credit:  Nickolay Romensky

Women wearing face masks against coronavirus Credit: Nickolay Romensky

The R number for COVID-19 - the number of people an infected individual passes the virus onto - has risen to above 1 in the North West of England and to 1 in the South West, according to the latest findings published by the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge. When R is greater than or equal to 1, it means transmission will be sustained.

Real-time tracking of a pandemic, as data accumulate over time, is an essential component of a public health response to a new outbreak. A team of statistical modellers at the Unit are working with Public Health England (PHE) to regularly ’nowcast’ and forecast COVID-19 infections and deaths. This information feeds directly to SAGE sub-group, Scientific Pandemic Influenza sub-group on Modelling (SPI-M) and to regional PHE teams.

The work uses a transmission model, data on daily COVID-19 confirmed deaths from PHE, and published information on the risk of dying and the time from infection to death, to reconstruct the number of new COVID-19 infections over time, estimate a measure of ongoing transmission, and predict the number of new COVID-19 deaths in different regions and age groups.

In the latest findings, published today, the researchers say:

There is some evidence that R has risen in all regions, probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households and in public and workplace settings

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