The coronavirus R rate may be falling in England - here’s what experts are saying

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 11:07 am
The largest study of coronavirus in England suggests that growths in cases of the virus may be slowing down (Photo: Shutterstock)

The largest study of coronavirus in England suggests that growths in cases of the virus may be slowing down.

Results from recently analysed samples shows that the R number - which stands for ‘reproduction rate’ and is the average number of people each infected person is passing the virus on to - has fallen.

R rate falling

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A team at Imperial College London analysed samples from 84,000 people, who were chosen at random from across the country. The results showed that the R number seems to have fallen.

However, scientists still warn that cases of the virus are high, with one in every 200 people being infected.

The previous React report found that infections were doubling every seven to eight days in late August and early September, which resulted in warnings that there could be 50,000 cases a day by mid-October.

It was then estimated the R number was 1.7, but the latest results from swab samples collected between 19 and 26 September suggests the R number has now fallen to around 1.1.

The React study is influential, due to both its size and that it gives an up to date picture of how the coronavirus is spreading.

Is the rule of six working?

Researchers from the group said that the latest R rate results are the first sign that measures such as the newly implemented "rule of six" might be “having an impact on transmission.”

Professor Paul Elliott, from Imperial College London, told the BBC, "This is a very critical period, we know in an exponential phase you very quickly get to a very large number of cases.

"There does appear to be a downturn in the rate of increase, the R number appears to have come down.

"Clearly nobody wants a full lockdown, but if we pay attention to public health messages on social distance, hand washing, face covering and testing and isolating, then I think we can turn the virus down."

However, the Reach study is just one of many sources of information that the government uses in order to assess the Covid-19 pandemic, as it also uses information from the Office for National Statistics, disease modelling groups, hospital data and NHS Test and Trace.