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Regional differences mean East of England cases rise despite R rate drop

The reproduction value has dropped for the East of England this week, but data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows rates are rising.
Cowgate 2, Peterborough
The R rate in the East of England is still above 1, meaning cases are still growing (Photo: John Baker)

The R value in the East of England is now estimated to be between 1.0 and 1.3, meaning that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 10 and 13 other people.

Across England it is estimated that the R rate is between 1.0 and 1.1. When this number is above 1, it means the epidemic is growing; when it is below 1 it means the epidemic is shrinking.

The growth rate for the East of England has also fallen. Last week it was estimated to be between plus 2% and plus 5%, but this week it is between plus 1% and plus 4%. This means that the number of new infections is increasing by between 1% and 5% every day.

Although both reproduction and growth rates have fallen in the region, the ONS has said that infections are rising in the East of England.

Data from November 8 to November 14 suggests that the overall national infection rate is similar to the week prior, but that there are stark regional divides - and rising rates in primary school aged children.

Katherine Kent, co-head of analysis for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: "There are early signs that the national level of infections in England might be levelling off but this hides a lot of variation at a regional level.

"Whilst the highest levels of infection remain in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, rates are now decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands while increasing in London, the East of England and the South East.

"New increases appear to be driven by infections in younger people, with increasing levels in primary school age children."

In Peterborough, the latest rolling seven-day rate of new Covid-19 cases is 213.6 per 100,000 people. In the seven days to November 15, there were 432 new cases recorded. The week prior, the seven days to November 8, recorded a rate of 183.4 per 100,000 people, with 371 positive test results.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, health secretary Matt Hancock said that there were "promising signs" that lockdown is working. He said: "There are promising signs that we have seen a flattening of the number of cases since lockdown was brought in and that is good news, though clearly there is further to go.

"I’m calling it a flattening rather than a fall because one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but there are promising signs that lockdown is working to get the number of cases under control."

He did, however, tell Times Radio that Christmas would be different this year, saying: "What we want to have is a set of rules that is, if at all possible, consistent across the four nations of the UK, not least because so many people travel to see their family at Christmas time, but also respects the fact that we must follow social distancing to keep the virus under control.

"I’ve got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout, because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus."