The coronavirus R rate – which measures the transmission level of COVID-19 – has risen above the range of one in parts of England including London. It comes as the Government prepares to ease lockdown restrictions from Saturday, which will see pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen for the first time in more than three months.
The latest figures published by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) reveal the R rate in London is now between 0.8 and 1.1.
A figure above one means the spread of the virus will increase – for example, a rate of one means an individual can pass the disease onto one other person.
At the previous recording the transmission level in London was between 0.7 and 0.9.
Outside of the capital, the R rate has also risen in the Midlands, South East, South West, Yorkshire and the North East.
The overall R rate for England is now between 0.8 and 0.9, compared to 0.7 and 0.9 last week.
While the growth rate remains the same at minus 5 percent to minus 2 percent.
The growth rate reflects how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day – if the percentage is greater than zero, and therefore positive, then the disease will grow.
In the Midlands, where a localised lockdown has been enforced in Leicester city, the R rate remains above one in certain areas and is generally between 0.8-1.
Further up the country, in the North East and Yorkshire, the transmission level is now between 0.8-1 from 0.7-0.9 at the last measurement.
In the South East and the South West the R rate is between 0.7-1.
Meanwhile, in the East of England, the R rate remains below one but has increased from a range of to 0.6 to 0.9 to 0.7-0.9.
“So, instead of locking down the whole country, we will lock down specific premises, or local areas where the virus is spreading.”
From Saturday, the Government’s measures to ease the lockdown will come into force with people in England now allowed to go to the pub, visit the hairdressers, dine in restaurants and go to the cinema.
The Department for Transport has also confirmed this afternoon England will once again open its borders to the world from next week.
Air bridges between England and 59 other nations including France, Germany and Spain have been created to ensure passengers do not need to adhere to quarantine measures.
The Department for Health has confirmed a further 137 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in hospitals, care homes and the wider community as of 5pm on Thursday.
The total number of fatalities in the UK now stands at 44,131.