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Coronavirus England: R-rate could be above one, say scientists


The number of people who tested positive for coronavirus rose by a quarter in the past week, as an additional 1,276 Britons were diagnosed today, according to government figures.

Data shows there are now an average of 1,173 new cases per day – a number up from 992 last Friday when 1,033 infections were recorded. More than 1,000 positive tests were confirmed on 16 days this month after a four-digit number of days in June and July.

And the Department of Health today confirmed the deaths of nine more Covid-19 patients across the UK, raising the official death toll to 41,486. This means that the average number of daily deaths rose to 12 in seven days, after dropping to seven last week.

The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) announced today that the virus' R rate could surpass the dreaded rate of 1 for the first time in England. Last week's advisors decided it was between 0.9 and 1.0 – but this week they raised their estimate to 0.9-1.1.

This means that local outbreaks are likely to increase in size as each infected person passes the virus on to one or more other people.

While it's a higher R-rate, experts have warned that the number is only a guide and is no longer particularly reliable. It is based on outdated information using numbers from weeks ago and fluctuates more erratically when the number of cases is small, as small spikes in voltage can affect the total.

However, the separate data released today showed that the estimated number of people contracting the virus in England continues to decline. The Office for National Statistics predicts there will be 2,200 new cases each day, an eight percent decrease from 2,400 last week.

In other UK coronavirus news:

  • Ministers announced that eight counties, including Trafford in Greater Manchester and Burnley and Hyndburn in Lancashire, will be exempted from strict local lockdown rules.
  • Britain is preparing to speed up a coronavirus vaccine to get it approved without EU approval and will be training more doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, physical therapists and even veterinarians to administer the puffs.
  • A survey of more than 14,000 adults in 14 countries found that people believe the UK and US treated the coronavirus pandemic worse than any other developed country.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping up efforts to get people back to their offices and quit work from home as he prepares a public relations campaign to revitalize troubled city and city centers.
  • Research released overnight found that not a single previously healthy child in the UK died of Covid-19 and that all six teenagers who died were seriously ill before contracting the virus.

Today's update from SAGE showed that the UK overall, England, London, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest have R-Rate between 0.9 and 1.1.

It's between 0.8 and 1.0 in east England and northeast Yorkshire, the report says, and between 0.8 and 1.1 in the Midlands.

HOW HAS THE RATE CHANGED SINCE JUNE?

SAGE's estimate of the coronavirus reproductive rate has increased significantly since scientists began recording in June as lockdown rules were lifted and people got back to work and socialized with the reopening of pubs, restaurants and sports centers .

This was an expected effect of the unblocking and is not necessarily a sign that the virus is out of control.

As the case numbers drop, the R-rate becomes a less useful measure because small "super-spreading" events can cause significant fluctuations, say scientists.

Here's how the R-rate changed for the whole of the UK:

June 19th: 0.7-0.9

25th June: 0.7-0.9

3rd of July: 0.7-0.9

(July 4th: pubs, restaurants, cafes and hairdressers reopen to the public)

10th of July: 0.7-0.9

17th July: 0.7-0.9

24th July: 0.7-0.9

(July 25: gyms, swimming pools and leisure centers reopen to the public)

July 31: 0.8-0.9

August 7th: 0.8 – 1.0

August 14: 0.8-1.0

(August 15: beauty salons, ice rinks, casinos, bowling alleys reopened to the public)

August 21:: 0.9-1.1

August 28th: 0.9-1.1

The scientists, led by Sir Patrick Vallance, England's chief scientist, said they were not confident that the R-rate was still below one.

The rate is the average number of people who pass it on to someone infected with the virus. The number should be kept below one for large outbreaks to avoid groups of cases getting out of hand.

SAGE said: & # 39; Models using COVID-19 test data that is less time lag have recently suggested higher values ​​for R in England.

& # 39; Because of this, SAGE has no confidence that R is below one in England right now.

& # 39; We would expect this change in transmission to be reflected in the R and Growth Rates published over the next few weeks as we become more certain of what is happening now.

Estimates of R and growth rate per day are less reliable and less useful in determining the state of the epidemic when the incidence of disease or deaths is low, or when there is significant population variability or incidence, such as during local Outbreaks .

If so, estimates of R and growth rate should not be considered robust enough to inform policy decisions on their own. Both are average measures and smooth out localized outbreaks or short periods of time, which doesn't exactly reflect the way infections change in the regions. "

Although officials have downplayed the importance of the rising numbers, scientists show the UK is in a precarious position.

Dr. Yuliya Kyrychko, a mathematician at the University of Sussex, said: “Recent estimates of the R-number, coupled with a growing number of new infections over the past few days, suggest that the number of infections has increased and continues to grow across England.

"This makes the current situation very delicate, especially with schools opening next week, as increased social and school-related interactions should be carefully balanced by reducing contacts elsewhere to allow for significant growth in new infections avoid."

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland announced no more deaths today, while NHS England confirmed that 10 more people were killed by the virus in its hospitals.

The patients died between August 2 and 26, and were all 60 years of age or older. Five of the deaths were confirmed in the southeast of England while the others were spread across the Midlands, Northeast, Northwest and Southwest.

However, the Department of Health total is lower because a different time limit is used. Deaths not reported by 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon may be included in the NHS England total but did not make it into the Department's count and will instead be counted in the future.

The updates are being delivered as a Covid-19 symptom tracking app that uses data from more than three million people and has reported seven new coronavirus hotspots in England and Wales.

Researchers from King & # 39; s College London highlighted South Tyneside, Oldham, Redcar and Cleveland, Wirral, Bradford, Barnsley and Denbighshire as potential problem areas. This complements Blackpool, Halton and Manchester, which have been on the list since last week.

In promising news for areas already subject to local lockdown rules, public health chiefs said today that Trafford in Greater Manchester and Burnley and Hyndburn in Lancashire are expected to be exempted from severe restrictions prohibiting residents from the comfort of other households At home or from your home garden.

Data from the Covid Symptom Tracker app run by King & # 39; s College London has selected seven new potential coronavirus hotspots based on local test data and self-reported symptoms from some 3.9 million users in the UK (Image: areas highlighted in red were added to the hotspot list this week, while the gray ones were already on the list and continue to be risk areas.

Data from the Covid Symptom Tracker app run by King & # 39; s College London has selected seven new potential coronavirus hotspots based on local test data and self-reported symptoms from some 3.9 million users in the UK (Image: areas highlighted in red were added to the hotspot list this week, while the gray ones were already on the list and continue to be risk areas.

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that there was an increase in daily cases of Covid-19 in July after pubs, restaurants and sports centers reopened, but this has now flattened and is declining. According to current estimates, 2,200 people are infected with the virus every day in England

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that there was an increase in daily cases of Covid-19 in July after pubs, restaurants and sports centers reopened, but this has now flattened and is declining. According to current estimates, 2,200 people are infected with the virus every day in England

The UK coronavirus outbreak has slowed for the third year in a row, according to the Bureau of National Statistics. Experts estimate that there are currently only 2,200 new cases per day.

It is believed that 28,200 people in England are infected at the same time – 0.05 percent of the population, or one in 1,900 people. That total is an increase from last week's estimate of 24,600, but the number of new daily cases is down from 2,400.

Similar data compiled by the King & # 39; s college app also shows signs of a decline in the outbreak. It is estimated that there are 1,200 new cases per day in the UK. The number has hardly changed compared to last week.

The promising statistics are welcome and come as the Ministry of Health's official testing program has shown worrying increases in new cases in recent weeks. Yesterday, 1,522 cases were confirmed – the highest daily value in 11 weeks.

Today's weekly report from the Office of National Statistics says that the outbreak in England is steadily progressing with cases neither rising nor falling significantly.

The report said: & # 39; There is some evidence that the percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in July has risen slightly from a low in June, but this continues to decline …

"At this point in time, there is not enough evidence that the incidence has decreased over the past week, so we continue to report that the incidence rate for England remains unchanged."

The statistics show a mixed picture: the total number of people believed to be infected increased from last week (24,600 to 28,200), but the number of people who catch them on a daily basis is decreasing (2,400 to 2,200) .

The data always works in a range of possibilities, and the true number for daily new cases this week could be between 1,100 and 3,800, while the total number of infections could be between 20,000 and 38,000, according to the ONS.

The ONS report claims, as throughout the outbreak, that there is no measurable difference in the rate of infection between different regions of England.

It shows that the North West, Yorkshire, Humber, and London appear to have more positive test subjects than other regions, but the differences are not statistically significant.

In this regard, the ONS report contradicts other sources. All local lockdowns imposed by the government take place in the Midlands, Northern England or Scotland.

On an official Public Health England watchlist, only three out of 28 vulnerable areas south of the Midlands are – Luton, Swindon and Slough.

The Manchester Evening News alleged that Andrew Western, chairman of Trafford Council, has confirmed the Greater Manchester borough will be released from lockdown. In the picture, George Street in Altrincham - Altrincham is a town in the Trafford district

The Manchester Evening News alleged that Andrew Western, chairman of Trafford Council, has confirmed the Greater Manchester borough will be released from lockdown. In the picture George Street in Altrincham – Altrincham is a town in the Trafford district

The Director of Public Health in Lancashire, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, confirmed the news that Burnley (pictured) and Hyndburn would be removed from lockdown, but warned residents that lifting additional restrictions "should not create complacency".

The Director of Public Health in Lancashire, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, confirmed the news that Burnley (pictured) and Hyndburn would be removed from lockdown, but warned residents that lifting additional restrictions "should not lead to complacency".

PHE data released last week showed the infection rate in Hyndburn (pictured in Accrington, the borough's capital) was 42.1, one of the highest rates in the country

PHE data released last week showed the infection rate in Hyndburn (pictured in Accrington, the borough's capital) was 42.1, one of the highest rates in the country

WHAT IS THE R NUMBER? AND HOW IS IT CALCULATED?

WHAT IS R0?

Each infectious disease is given a reproduction number known as R0 – pronounced "R naught".

This value indicates how many people a sick person infects on average.

WHAT IS THE R0 FOR COVID-19?

The R0 value for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was estimated at 2.4 by the Imperial College's Covid-19 response team before lockdown began.

However, some experts analyzing outbreaks around the world have estimated that they could be closer to the 6.6 mark.

Estimates of the R0 vary as the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery and the spread of the virus depends on the environment.

It will spread faster in a densely populated city where people take the subway than in a rural community where people go everywhere.

HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER VIRUSES?

It is believed to be at least three times more contagious than the coronavirus that causes MERS (0.3-0.8).

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases and has an R0 value of 12 to 18 if not controlled. The widespread vaccination suppresses it in most industrialized countries.

Chickenpox's R0 is estimated to be 10 to 12, while seasonal flu has a value of around 1.5.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A LOW R0?

The higher the R0 value, the more difficult it is for health authorities to control the spread of the disease.

A number below one means the outbreak is running out of steam and is over. This is because the infectious disease quickly goes out on strike with new victims.

HOW IS IT CALCULATED?

Experts use multiple sources to get this information, including NHS hospital admissions, death rates, and behavioral surveys, which ask people how much contact they have with others.

Using mathematical models, scientists can then calculate the spread of the virus.

However, a delay in the time it takes coronavirus patients to feel uncomfortable and die is always about three weeks ago.

This is in line with the watch list created by the Covid Symptom Tracker team, which only includes areas in the Midlands and the north.

However, the ONS report admits that predictions of regional positive case rates are "very uncertain"

Data from the app project, which uses test data and self-reported symptoms from more than three million people, suggests there are 1,073 new cases of coronavirus per day in England.

These form the majority of the projected 1,292 daily cases across the UK, an increase from an estimated 1,265 (1,071 in England) last week.

The app data suggests there are currently 18,340 people with Covid-19 and that cases continue to decline – the overall estimate last week was 20,299.

Researchers behind the project said that flat and shrinking data showed that local outbreaks across the country do not spread and affect the national situation, even if they do emerge.

The team looked for hotspots of the disease, listing South Tyneside, Blackpool and Oldham as the worst hit areas, each with over one in 500 infected.

Blackpool and fourth and fifth-placed Halton and Manchester were on last week's list, but seven of the ten worst hit were newcomers.

These included Redcar & Cleveland, Wirral, Bradford, Barnsley and Denbighshire in North Wales.

Places that were on last week's list but no longer a cause for concern included Rochdale, Dundee, Nottingham, Blackburn, and Salford.

Project Leader Professor Tim Spector said, “Although we are still a long way from returning to normal life, the measures currently in place appear to be keeping this low level of Covid in most populations, which is good news.

“Until we have a vaccine, however, we will continue to walk along that knife edge, with the ever-present risk of cases recurring.

"While these local outbreaks are more common in the north of England, we are not seeing these small local outbreaks spreading further."

& # 39; You seem to be well controlled. While the official number of confirmed cases in the UK is slowly increasing, this may be due to increased and more efficient testing. & # 39;

King's College estimates, made in collaboration with health tech company ZOE, are based on results of 8,117 swab tests between August 9 and 22, as well as self-reports among the 3.9 million users of the app in Great Britain.

Data showing that the number of cases appears to be stable – although out of date compared to the daily test numbers – gives hope that the UK's outbreak won't increase.

The daily test results from the Ministry of Health show that more and more people are testing positive for the virus.

The UK recorded 1,522 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, with the highest daily toll in almost 11 weeks.

Statistics show the daily average number of positive tests is now 1,138, which has more than doubled since falling to just 540 in mid-July.

The number of people reporting coronavirus symptoms and testing positive for the disease has decreased since the beginning of summer and now appears to be decreasing in all regions, data from Covid Symptom Tracker shows

The number of people reporting coronavirus symptoms and testing positive for the disease has decreased since the beginning of summer and now appears to be decreasing in all regions, data from Covid Symptom Tracker shows

The government is drafting plans to quickly pursue a COVID-19 JAB

The government is developing new rules to expedite any coronavirus vaccine through emergency approval if one is found to be safe and protect patients from the life-threatening disease.

A change in current legislation could allow the UK to bypass the red tape of the European Medicines Agency and get a roll-out faster without waiting for EU approval.

And the government is also training an army of medical professionals to deliver the shocks to speed up the process. These can be pharmacists, midwives, paramedics, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and even veterinarians. The workforce is to be trained by October.

The race for a vaccine against Covid-19 is advancing. Scientists around the world are designing and testing dozens of candidates in the hopes of ending the pandemic.

One of the most promising has been developed in the UK by researchers at Oxford University and is already in large-scale human studies to test its effectiveness. Donald Trump is reportedly considering speeding it up ahead of the November US election, despite scientists not proving it works.

If one is found to be effective and safe, officials will endeavor to make it available to as many people as possible to avoid another devastating wave of deaths like the one Britain suffered this spring when 40,000 infected patients died.

A sting is not expected to be found until 2021, but Number 10 is currently preparing contingency plans in case a scientific breakthrough occurs before Christmas, officials said.

Hopes that the crisis was finally under control rose last week after the moving average fell for four days in a row, but it has been rising every day since Friday, for the last time in triple digits.

The last time the UK recorded more cases than yesterday was June 12 (1,541), three weeks before ministers relaxed lockdown rules and allowed millions of Brits to celebrate their summer with the return of pubs and restaurants.

Experts warned the relaxation would inevitably trigger more cases, but other scientists urged the nation to learn to live with the virus in order to avoid further economic disasters caused by blanket measures.

Scientists and doctors also claim that part of the reason the numbers of positive tests are increasing is that the testing program is increasingly finding people with the disease better.

Still not all of them are recognized – if the ONS's estimate of 2,200 is correct, the 1,500 positive tests yesterday showed hundreds are still being missed – but it is possible that more targeted tests, like setting up additional facilities in areas with localized outbreaks, this could pick up more infections without actually more nationally.

Professor Rowland Kao, epidemiologist and data scientist at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The increase in the number of cases needs to be viewed with caution – a single number may be due in part to variability.

'It does, however, reflect a general trend towards a greater number of cases. The release of restrictions, the increased number of imports due to people traveling overseas, and the demonstration that in some cases these restrictions are insufficiently respected can all contribute to increased transmission.

& # 39; This trend also reflects patterns seen in other European countries, where restrictions were previously imposed and therefore earlier recurrences.

"Whether or not this marks the start of a second wave of a national epidemic depends on the ability of the testing and tracking system to respond effectively by clearing as many local outbreaks as possible quickly."

One salvation, even as the number of cases rises, is that the death toll doesn't seem to be rising, which experts say is due to the fact that cases are now more common in younger people, who are less affected.

Dr. Simon Clarke, Professor of Cell Microbiology at the University of Reading added, “It should be remembered that we have not yet seen any equivalent increases in hospital admissions, let alone deaths, and it seems likely that we will see continued increases in The daily number of new diagnoses and hospital admissions before the authorities lead to a significant increase in the restrictions in our lives.

"People need to be aware of the risk of infection and get tested to see if they have symptoms."

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