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article imageUK's COVID-19 epidemic growing as R number goes over 1.0

By Karen Graham     Sep 11, 2020 in World
London - Public health officials have warned of "worrying signs" of infection among the elderly, as the reproduction “R” number of COVID-19 infections indicated the UK's epidemic is growing again.
The United Kingdom's R number is between 1.0 and 1.2, up from 0.9 to 1.1 last week, the Government Office for Science said on Friday, according to Reuters.
This shows the daily growth rate for the UK as a whole is between -1 percent and 3 percent, up from -1 and 2 percent. The "R" refers to the “effective reproduction number,” and is a way to measure an infectious disease’s capacity to spread.
In other words, the R number represents the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to. Suffice to say that the R number is a key factor in gauging the coronavirus pandemic, and more important - an R value of 1.0 or less is a crucial threshold to reach.
There are a number of factors that can influence the R number, including how infectious the disease is, as well as how it develops over time. Epidemiologists also look at how a population behaves, and if any immunity is present because of infection or vaccination.
This map shows the weekly prevalence  per 100 000 population  of COVID-19 across the UK for the last...
This map shows the weekly prevalence, per 100,000 population, of COVID-19 across the UK for the last seven days - as of September 10, 2020.
Public Health England, Scotland and Wales
And last, but not least, the location of an infected population is also taken into consideration because a densely populated city is likely to have a greater number of infections than a sparsely populated rural area.
The BBC is reporting that new daily confirmed UK cases of the virus rose to 3,539 on Friday, an increase of more than 600 from the day before. As a whole, the number of cases across the UK is still much lower than they were in April, however, a study found that cases were doubling every seven to eight days, primarily in young people.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said although younger people made up the greatest share of new cases, "we're now starting to see worrying signs of infections occurring in the elderly, who are at far higher risk of getting seriously ill."
Needless to say, starting Monday, the "rule of six" will restrict indoor and outdoor gatherings in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Professor James Naismith, from the University of Oxford has the final word: "We know that medical treatment and scientific advances have improved significantly, thus even with infection rates as bad as March and April, there will be many fewer deaths. The more people wash their hands and practise social distancing - especially by and around the vulnerable - the lower the number of deaths and illness we will see."
More about United Kingdom, Corpnavirus, Epidemic, R number, could be growing
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