Coronavirus experts warn infection rate is 75% higher than previously thought

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
People walk by a COVID-19 infection awareness poster in London, Monday, June 15, 2020. After three months of being closed under coronavirus restrictions, shops selling fashion, toys and other non-essential goods are being allowed to reopen across England for the first time since the country went into lockdown in March.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Infections in England are 75% higher than previously thought, experts have said. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The number of people infected with coronavirus every day in England is 75% higher than previously thought, experts have revealed.

The figures come as the country waits to see whether the government’s decision to reopen businesses like pubs and hairdressers has an impact on the virus’s spread.

Cambridge University’s MRC Biostatistics Unit, which runs nowcasting and forecasting for infections, believes 5,300 people are contracting COVID-19 every day, up from a previous estimate of 3,000, an increase of 76.6%.

It has also found there is a 50% chance that the reproduction number (R), an indicator of how fast the virus is spreading, has risen above 1 in the North East and Yorkshire, meaning the outbreak there could be growing.

The unit said there is “no evidence of any further change in the number of daily new infections” over the last week.

“We predict that the number of deaths each day is likely to be between 70 and 135 by the third week of July,” a blurb attached to the latest data states.

“We estimate it is likely that R is below 1 in most regions of England.”

R, which assesses how many people a person with coronavirus would go on to infect, has been used as a key measurement for much of the outbreak.

The government has stressed it wants to keep the R below 1, keeping the virus effectively in decline.

The unit estimates that, as of 3 July, there is a 50% chance that R has gone above 1 in the North East and Yorkshire, the highest probability for any region in England.

This is down from 51% on on 16 June, but up dramatically from 23% on 15 June.

The next highest probability is a 47% chance that the East of England has an R over 1, followed by 37% for the South East.

Prior to mid-June, the last time period the MRC Biostatistics Unit believes a region was more likely than not to have R above 1 was in March, prior to lockdown kicking in, when each region had a 100% chance R was over 1.

Lockdown in England has eased to the point of where non-essential businesses have reopened, with punters able to enjoy a pint inside the pub for the first time since the government ordered them to close.

Police have voiced concerns that inebriated people can’t social distance. However, despite coronavirus restrictions easing repeatedly and significantly for England, the government has maintained R is between 0.7 and 0.9.

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