Coronavirus 'growth rate' goes back up a week after massive fall

Latest figures show coronavirus cases are showing signs of slowing. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The R rate for coronavirus has risen slightly - Credit: PA

The "growth rate" for coronavirus in East Anglia has risen again - just a week after a dramatic fall.

The latest figures from the government appear to show the R rate for the region is highly variable, having been the highest in the country just a few weeks before that.

However, the latest increase is small - although there are fears case numbers will rise now that children have returned to schools.

The R rate is the number of other people that one infected person will pass the disease onto.

If the R number is below 1.0, it means the spread of the illness is slowing.

However, any value above 1.0 is a cause for concern, because those who are infected are passing it on to more people - who in turn are also infecting others.

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It is not possible to be precise about the figure, because it changes depending on people's behaviour or because the level of immunity they have alters.

There is also not an R rate figure published for Suffolk or Essex - instead, the figure covers the East of England as a whole.

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That means the figure is influenced by what is happening in other counties, such as Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

The R rate in Anglia fell to its low point of between 0.6 and 0.8 in March - meaning that every 10 people infected were passing it on to between six and eight other people.

By the end of May, the East Anglia rate rose to between 0.9 and 1.1, as the government's roadmap out of lockdown permitted more social mixing.

The R number in the East of England rose further in June, to between 1.1 and 1.4 - and following the removal of most restrictions on July 19 it grew to 1.3 to 1.5, higher than anywhere else in England.

It fell back down to 0.9 and 1.2 in August, but has now crept up slightly to 1.0 to 1.2.

The statistics show that the R rate is not below the crucial 1.0 figure, the target set by prime minister Boris Johnson to reduce the growth of Covid-19.

Data released on Tuesday showed the case rate in Ipswich rose to 261.5 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to August 27, compared with 225.7 cases per 100,000 a week earlier.

Ipswich was the only district in Suffolk to see the Covid rate increase, with every other area seeing a small decrease in the same time period. 

But thousands of pupils are due to return to schools this week after the summer holidays, prompting fears that infection rates will rise.

Suffolk Public Health has urged people to "think of others and wear a mask" to contain any future spread.

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