Rise in coronavirus ‘growth rate’ across East Anglia

An advert thanking the NHS in a bus shelter in Tacket Street. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The R rate has risen for the East of England - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The growth rate for coronavirus in East Anglia has risen - showing that it could be spreading more quickly than before.

However, case levels have continued to stay low across Suffolk - even though the county has seen 30 cases of the Indian variant of the disease.

The R rate, or growth rate, is the number of others that one infected person will pass the disease onto.

If it is below 1.0, it means the spread of the illness is slowing.

However, any value above 1.0 is a cause for concern, because those who are infected are passing it on to more people - who in turn are also infecting others.

It is not possible to be precise about the figure, because it changes depending on people's behaviour or because the level of immunity they have alters.

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There is also not an R rate figure published for Suffolk or Essex - instead, the figure covers the East of England as a whole.

That means the figure is influenced by what is happening in other counties, such as Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

At the start of March, the R rate in Anglia had fallen to 0.6 to 0.8 - meaning that every 10 people infected were passing it on to between six and eight other people.

That grew to between 0.7 and 1.0 at the start of April, as more restrictions were eased following the national lockdown at the start of the year.

As of April 23, the rate was at 0.8 to 1.1 for the East of England.

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The current East Anglia rate is now 0.9 to 1.1, which is slightly lower than the England average of 1.0 to 1.1.

Suffolk County Council has been carrying out thousands of coronavirus tests in Needham Market after cases of the Indian variant were found in the town.

The increased testing was introduced to track the B.1.617.2 variant after the growth in Suffolk was tracked to Bolton

Of the 30 confirmed Suffolk Indian variant cases, 22 have been found in Mid Suffolk, five in West Suffolk and three in Ipswich.

At least two of the cases are in individuals with a Suffolk address but who have not been in the county during their infectious period – one from West Suffolk and one from Ipswich.

West Suffolk MP and health secretary Matt Hancock has said the Indian variant could now be upwards of three quarters of new Covid cases in England. 

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