Government adviser reveals shock 'R' rate rise in coronavirus infections

The reproductive (R) rate of coronavirus could be as high as one in some parts of England, while it is likely to be slightly lower in other parts of the UK.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told a virtual briefing with journalists on Friday the R-number – the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person – for England was between 0.7 and one, while it remained between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK as a whole.

He said the prevalence of Covid-19 was on a “downward trajectory” in the UK, adding: “The prevalence of coronavirus, according to the ONS, is at 0.1 per cent, with 53,000 people with Covid-19 in the past two weeks.”

He said the incidence rate was at 0.7 per cent per week, which meant there were “roughly” 39,000 new coronavirus cases each week.

Sir Patrick said: “The latest R-value calculation is between 0.7 and 0.9 for the UK as a whole, it may be a little bit higher in England it may be between 0.7 and 1, and there is a bit of regional variation.”

He said there could be “some places” where the R-value is very close to one.

Meanwhile, a total of 220,057 tests for coronavirus were carried out in the 24 hours up to 9am on Friday, Downing Street confirmed.

Out of those, 96,474 were conducted via home testing kits while 40,385 were antibody tests.

The available capacity for testing was 220,213.

A total of 194,467 antibody tests have been carried out on NHS staff so far, although Downing Street said it was still to determine the most “appropriate means” for supplying more information about the results.

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