THE UK’s official R rate has gone up to 1.5 – as Covid cases reach highs not seen since February.
It is quite a leap on from last week, following on from dramatic increases in infections all over the country.
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The R rate, also known as the reproduction number, helps the government measure the rate of coronavirus infections.
An R number between 1.2 and 1.5 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 12 and 15 other people.
It gives an indication of the number of people that one person with coronavirus is likely to pass it on to.
The R rate is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.
Last week scientists said the R rate for England was 1.1 to 1.3, and as high as 1.6 in the South West.
People testing positive for Covid in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have increased, the latest Office for National Statistics data shows.
Sarah Crofts, Head of Analytical Outputs for the COVID-19 Infection Survey, said: “We are seeing marked increases in infections across all four UK countries driven by the Delta variant, which continues to be the most common across the UK.
“These increases are widespread – across all regions and age groups in England, similar to levels seen last February.”
Maps revealed how rapidly the Delta variant has become dominant in a matter of weeks – and are a forewarning of dangerous future strains.
Delta, first identified in India, makes up almost every new Covid case in the UK (95 per cent).
But it only arrived on British soil in mid-April, mostly in international travellers.
And in no more than six weeks, the Delta strain went from a handful of cases to making up the majority of infections in the UK.
As infections continue to increase throughout the country the strain has still got a grip on the UK.
The Delta variant makes up around 99 per cent cases found in Britain.
A total of 216,249 infections have now been identified in the UK – up by 54,268 from 161,981 cases in the previous week, a rise of 34 per cent.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency said: “The data continues to show that the sharp increase in cases that we are seeing is not being followed by a similar increase in hospitalisation and death.
“This is because two doses of the available vaccines offer a high level of protection against the Delta variant.
“Getting both jabs is the best way to ensure you and the people you love remain safe, so we once again urge everyone to come forward as soon as they are eligible.”
Two new variants are also being monitored by Public Health England – B.1.619 and B.1.629.