A week is a long time in the life of a virus – R-rate in South West drops to lowest level in England

A group of experts who have been advising the Government during the coronavirus pandemic say that the reproductive rate of COVID-19 in the South West is the lowest in England – just a week after the region had the highest level.

[Owl adds that the symptom tracker app is showing falls of symptom rates to low levels in North Devon (0.1%), Torbay and South Hams (0.3%) but East Devon is at 0.5.%. There are other metrics than R that are important such as prevalence, which is the number of infectious people and incidence, which is the number of new daily infections. All these are likely to be under-reported for Covid-19 because of the emerging evidence significant numbers of asymptomatic cases in the population.]

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has released the latest information for the R-rate, which indicates the average number of people that an infected person will pass the virus on to, shows that it is currently at 0.6-0.9 in the South West.

This is the lowest range in across England and is a turnaround from a week ago when the region was deemed to have the country’s highest R-rate of 0.8-1.1.

Across England, the R-rate currently sits at 0.7-0.9 which is lower than last week when the figure was 0.7-1.

Taking over as the region with the highest level is the Midlands were the rate stands at 0.8-1 while London and the North West are at 0.7-1.

Elsewhere, the R-rate range in the East of England, South East and North East and Yorkshire is 0.7-0.9.

The latest figures come on the same day that the UK’s chief medical officers agreed to downgrade the coronavirus alert level from four to three.

This means the epidemic is in general circulation but transmission is no longer “high or rising exponentially”.

Earlier today (June 19), NHS England confirmed that hospitals in Devon and Cornwall had gone a fourth consecutive day without reporting the death of a COVID-19 patient.