Government scientific advisors have warned on Friday that the coronavirus R rate has risen above 1 in the South West of England.
The expert government advisory panel, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have said the reproduction rate has not come down in two months and still stands at between 0.7 and 0.9.
SAGE warned the R rate could now be as high as 1.1 in the staycation hotpots of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.
The advisory panel also warned that these estimates do not reflect “Super Saturday” which saw pubs, bars and restaurants reopen, saying it is too early to judge if this has sparked a spike in cases.
The experts further warned that the estimates can easily rise and may well be rising in London and the South West.
Fresh data from Public Health England reveals that Blackburn, Bedford and Peterborough are seeing the highest cases of the virus.
Last week Peterborough was 17.4 and this week it has jumped to 21.4, whilst Blackburn increased from 23.5 to 33.6 cases per 100,000 population.
Leicester which when into lockdown last week still has the highest number of coronavirus infections, with 116 cases per 100,000 population.
Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson warned last week that more localised lockdowns are “inevitable.”
“We are relaxing lockdown rules and that means that contacts in the population are going up and that is a very variable process,” he said.
Rochdale in the East Midlands has 32.7 cases and Bradford has 31.8 cases per 100,000 population. Across England the growth rate has risen from -5% to -2% per day last week, to -4% to -1% per day this week.
Compared to last week, the whole of the UK stood at, -6% to -0% per day, and is now at -5% to -2% per day. The overall growth rate of the virus has fallen across the UK.
When the growth rate of the virus rises above zero and positive coronavirus will grow, and when it is less than zero the virus starts to disappear.
The government have previously stated that if the R rate rises above 1 then there will be localised lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.
Professor Oliver Johnson, who specialises in information theory at University of Bristol, said, “The fact that R is still estimated to be below 1 across the UK implies that the epidemic is continuing to shrink overall.
“This is consistent with the numbers observed through positive tests and deaths, which both continue to decline. There is uncertainty on these estimates because R cannot be directly measured and inferring its value becomes hard when the number of cases is low.
“For this reason it is not possible to rule out the possibility that the epidemic is growing in some regions, though values in the middle of the ranges given are most likely.
“There appear to be no particular trends in these numbers compared with last week, and the overall UK estimate has remained consistent at 0.7-0.9 over the last 7 weeks, suggesting that the weekly rate of decline is roughly constant.
“However it is too early to judge the effect of “Super Saturday” openings based on these numbers, since any infections that took place last weekend are unlikely to have led to positive tests soon enough to influence them.”