How the coronavirus R number in the UK compare as Wales prepares for a possible national lockdown

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Wales and England are estimated to have a roughly similar R number at the moment as the Welsh R number continues to grow.

In a press conference where he announced a possible two week lockdown for Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the R number in Wales is estimated to be at around 1.4.

This is up from the figure of 1.37 announced by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in his press conference on Monday.

The latest estimate for England put the figure at between 1.2-1-4. This means Wales probably has a higher R rate than England. Even though large parts of the north of England have incredibly high rates of Covid (Liverpool is over 800 cases per 100,000), there are also huge swathes of southern England and the South West which have very low amounts of coronavirus

Over the summer it was very hard for experts and modellers to come up with an exact R number because there was so little of the virus in circulation.

However, it has now reached a point where the virus is so widespread that experts are now able to say with more certainty what the R rate is in Wales.

Advice from a Welsh Government technical advisory cell said: “While there may still be high degrees of variability (for example, in a localised outbreak), there is now more confidence in the reliability of the R and growth rate estimates compared to two to three months ago.”

It also said that “availability of testing may also be a constraint” on calculating the R rate amidst a UK-wide shortage of tests due to backlogs in the UK Government funded (but privately run) Lighthouse Labs.

The R number represents the amount of people each person with Covid-19 is infecting with the virus.

If that number goes above one, the number of people becoming infected with the virus will grow exponentially, but as long as it remains below one, the number of people infected with the virus will continue to fall.

Even if the R rate is falling, any figure above one is very bad news as it means that cases of the virus are on the rise.

What about the rest of the UK?

The Department of Health in England publishes the R number for every region once a week.

  • East of England – 1.3 to 1.5 (fall)
  • London – 1.1 to 1.4 (fall)
  • Midlands – 1.2 to 1.5 (same)
  • North East and Yorkshire – 1.3 to 1.4 (fall)
  • North West – 1.3 to 1.5 (rise)
  • South East – 1.3 to 1.5 (rise)
  • South West – 1.3 to 1.6 (same)

Scotland has a current range is between 1.3 and 1.6.

The estimated range for the R rate in Northern Ireland is between 1.5 to 1.6.



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