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UK infection rate increases as over 41,000 now confirmed dead from disease

The UK’s R number is between 0.7-1.0.
May 15th 2020, 6:24 PM 39,752 50

THE UK’S HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock has said that the rate of infection in Great Britain has increased.

In a briefing this evening, Hancock said the R number – the rate of transmission of the disease – remained below one.

The R number tells you the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has calculated that R has risen slightly to between 0.7 and 1.

Hancock told the No 10 press briefing: “We are constantly keeping the R under review. We don’t think that it is above one. So that meets that test.

“It is an incredibly important figure for policymakers but it is one data point to look at alongside the level of new cases.”

The R number in Ireland is between 0.4 and 0.6, according to health officials here.

The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK passed 41,000, according to the latest available data.

Experts say the R number is not the only important measure of the epidemic, as it indicates whether the epidemic is getting bigger or smaller but not how large it is.

They say it should always be considered alongside the number of people currently infected.

If R equals 1 with 100,000 people currently infected, it is a very different situation to R equals 1 with 1,000 people currently infected.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, said: “R is one of the important things you can track to understand an epidemic.

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“If you can estimate R, then you have part of a reliable tool for planning how to combat the virus.

“If the R is higher than one that means this disease is growing exponentially and will keep on spreading to more and more people.

“To keep R below one and control the virus, it is vital that people stay alert and continue to follow the latest Government guidelines to the letter.

“In the coming weeks we will update this estimate regularly.”

R is an average value that can vary in different parts of the country, communities, and sub-sections of the population.

It cannot be measured directly so there is always some uncertainty around its exact value.

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