The latest estimate of the R number for coronavirus in Wales has increased but remains slightly below England.
The R number is the amount of people each person with Covid-19 is infecting with the virus.
If that number goes above one, the number of people becoming infected with the virus will grow exponentially – but as long as it remains below one, the number of people infected with the virus will continue to fall.
In Wales, the most recent estimate of the reproduction number from the UK Government’s pandemic modelling body SPI(M) is between 1 and 1.4. This is up from between 0.5 and 1 three weeks ago. There has been a spike in cases since the start of September leading to a climbing R rate and the majority of people in Wales going into some form of local lockdown.
There is greater uncertainty in the estimates for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland partly due to the smaller numbers of cases and deaths compared to England. This why the range for Wales is so big.
Rate the Welsh Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic:
The same is true for Scotland where the current range is between 1.2 and 1.6
For England, the R number is 1.2-1.5 which is an increase from 1-1.2 three weeks ago.
The Department of Health in England publishes the R number for every region once a week.
- East of England – 1.1-1.3
- London – 1.2-1.5
- Midlands – 1.2-1.5
- North East and Yorkshire – 1.2-1.5
- North West – 1.2-1.5
- South East – 1-1.3
- South West – 1.1-1.4
Northern Ireland has a range of between 0.5 and 0.9.
See the latest data for infection rates across Wales here.
How important is the R number?
At the start of the crisis the R rate was as high as three and there were lots of cases. This made the R rate a very important and useful measurement.
However, as there are fewer cases the R value becomes less useful because with a small sample size even one or two new cases can wildly skew the number.
The Welsh Government is therefore not using the R rate as much now and instead has a list of indicators it is looking at to decide if Wales needs to go back into lockdown.
You can read more about these indicators here.
These indicators are designed to spot spikes before Wales needs to go back into a full lockdown.
Welsh Government health experts will use various types of data to make a decision. These are divided into circuit breakers and early warning indicators.
Early warning indicators are pieces of data that let the Welsh Government know that a spike in cases could be on the way.
Circuit breakers are points where an immediate lockdown would be ordered.
The main measurement used at the moment is cases per 100,000. This is what was referenced when large parts of South Wales was put into lockdown.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk