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Rising infection rate prompts warning of second wave

The R number indicating the rate at which the coronavirus outbreak is growing in Britain may have slightly increased and could be as high as 1, according to official figures that suggest there may be very little wiggle room for any further lifting of the lockdown.

The latest estimates of the number, which reflect the state of transmission a fortnight ago, put it as between 0.7 and 1. Last Sunday night (10/5) Boris Johnson said that it was between 0.5 and 0.9.

The R value is a measure of how many people each newly infected patient passes the disease to. A value any higher than 1 means that the number of cases will begin to rise again.

Rule changes, which encouraged more people to work and to travel, have been criticised and more questions will be asked after the new calculations, which show that even a slight increase in transmission rates could tip new infections in the wrong direction.

Although the range of uncertainties mean it is still possible that the R value is unchanged, scientists said on Friday (15/5) that it would not be surprising if it had increased slightly. The initial gains of the lockdown have left behind more tenacious outbreaks, most notably in care homes and hospitals. It is possible that these are now dominating the continued spread of the virus.                                                 (Source:  The Times)