(See also later post on South West R value has risen to 1, say experts.)
Ministers had refused to publish a breakdown by region but Manchester Mayor Andy Burnam released them, and they have been reported by the Mirror.
This alarming headline, however, is not supported by the Covid-19 symptom tracker data which is sowing a fall of 17% n estimated infections over the past week across the UK. It also shows current estimated symptom rates in East Devon at an all time low of 0.3%. Owl suspects that the R-rate estimates below might be lagging events. Owl has been following the Weston hospital closure which now looks to be due to the hospital itself becoming an infection hot spot.
The chart below from the symptom tracker also show that, after a long period when symptom rates held constant, they appear to be falling again.
The South West continues to have the lowest infection rate in the UK.
Visualisation of daily Covid symptom progress shown as numbers of cases per million
The South West has the highest coronavirus R-rate in the UK
An ‘R’ number for each region in the UK has been revealed for the first time – and the South West has the highest.
The number, also known as ‘reproduction rate’, represents the coronavirus infection rate. If it goes above 1, new restrictions and tougher social distancing measures could be needed.
The South West is estimated to have the highest infection rate with 0.9. The North East and East Midlands are thought to have the next highest, followed by the North West.
However it is thought to be the highest because of a recent rise in cases in the Bristol and Weston-super-Mare areas. The South West region includes an area as far as Gloucestershire. Devon and Cornwall has had just 13 new cases of coronavirus from lab-confirmed tests in the last seven days.
All regions were deemed to have infection rates “decreasing” or “likely decreasing” apart from the South West.
Ministers had refused to publish a breakdown by region but Manchester Mayor Andy Burnam released them, the Mirror reports.
He tweeted: “Not a great deal of ‘room for manoeuvre’, as the Chief Scientific Adviser told the @10DowningStreet briefing.”
The data was compiled by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Officially the UK as a whole has an R of between 0.7 and 0.9 but Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance has said a slight increase could be dangerous.
Burnham said lockdown restrictions are being eased too soon, as “the R number was still quite high”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we have arrived at quite a dangerous moment.
“This is premature, this easing of the lockdown.
“Test and trace is not fully operational and it should be, in my view, before these steps are taken.”
Two members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) also spoke out about the issue, expressing concerns that easing lockdown measures from Monday could cause a spike in the spread of COVID-19.
Scientists Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds said ministers were taking risks by following their current plans.
They expressed concern at allowing the gradual reopening of shops and schools and larger gatherings to meet in private while the number of new cases each day remains “relatively high”.