Dramatic fall in coronavirus 'growth rate' in East Anglia

Bus in Ipswich

The figures suggest the growth of coronavirus is shrinking - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The "growth rate" for coronavirus has dramatically fallen in the East of England - having been the highest in the country just weeks ago.

The latest figures from the government suggest the spread of the virus is shrinking, although it is still not fully below 1.0 - the target set by prime minister Boris Johnson to reduce the growth of Covid-19.

The R rate, also known as the growth 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.

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.

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

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

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"These estimates represent the transmission of Covid-19 two to three weeks ago, due to the time delay between someone being infected, developing symptoms, and needing healthcare," the government's website adds.

At the start of March, the R rate in Anglia had fallen to 0.6 and 0.8 - 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.

Latest figures now show East Anglia is in line with the rest of the country, with an R rate between 0.9 and 1.2. 

That is the same as the national average.

Latest figures show Covid infection rates have risen in districts throughout Suffolk, after previously ranking among the lowest in England.

However, case levels still remain relatively low.

For the week up to August 19, West Suffolk's seven-day infection rate was the highest in the county at 262.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Mid Suffolk's rate was 256.5 per 100,000 people, with Ipswich's at 219.2 and East Suffolk's at 217.3.

Babergh's infection rate was the lowest in the county at 191.9.

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