Covid: R number rises in England but falls in London

·2-min read
Data shows staff absences due to Covid have risen 59% in a week (PA) (PA Wire)
Data shows staff absences due to Covid have risen 59% in a week (PA) (PA Wire)

England’s Covid R number is estimated to have risen to between 1.2 and 1.5 but in London has fallen to between 0.9 and 1.2, the UK Health Security Agency has said.

An R - or reproduction - number of between 1.2 and 1.5 means that for every 10 people infected, they will on average infect between 12 and 15 other people.

It is the first update to the R number since Dec 23, following a break for Christmas, when the range in England was 1.0 to 1.2.

London’s R number two weeks ago was estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.6.

The statistics suggest the rate of growth of the pandemic is slowing in London or if the lower range is correct the pandemic may no longer be growing in the capital.

The daily growth of infections is estimated to be between -2 and +3. If the minus figure is correct it would mean the pandemic is shrinking in London.

England’s current R number hasn’t been this high since July last year. It suggests the pandemic is growing at its fastest rate since then as the Omicron wave sweeps the country.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said earlier this week London is emerging from its Omicron peak while the rest of the country is “now coming under pressure”.

London’s R number was last between 0.9 and 1.2 on December 3 when the Omicron wave was beginning in the capital.

An expert said on Friday a surge in the number of severe Omicron cases and deaths is unlikely to be seen in the current wave of the pandemic.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said that while there is no definite severing between the number of Covid infections and hospital admissions, there has been a break between the number of cases and severe outcomes.

But the NHS is still under great pressure. Some 200 armed forces personnel are being made available to support hospitals in London, which has been the epicentre of the Omicron outbreak with a huge upsurge in cases.

Figures on Friday showed about 10,000 London hospital staff a day have been absent from work as the pandemic and winter sickness takes its toll on NHS staff.

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