Coronavirus: Disease Control

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Wigley Lord Wigley Plaid Cymru

To ask Her Majesty's Government which towns, counties or communities in England had an 'R' rate for COVID-19 reinfection in excess of 1.0 during June; what specific steps were taken in each of these areas to reduce the figure to below 1.0; and by what date this was achieved in each case.

Photo of Lord Bethell Lord Bethell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government Office for Science currently publishes the latest estimate of the reproduction number (R) for the United Kingdom and NHS England regions on a weekly basis. We do not estimate R for geographies smaller than regional level.

R is an average value that can vary in different parts of the country, communities, and subsections of the population. It cannot be measured directly so there is always uncertainty around its exact value. This is problematic when calculating R using small numbers of cases, either due to lower infection rates or smaller geographical areas. This uncertainty may be due to variability in the underlying data, leading to a wider range for R and more frequent changes in the estimates. R is not the only important measure of the epidemic and should be considered alongside other measures such as the number of new cases.

For this reason, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergency’s view is that estimates of R for geographies smaller than regional level are less reliable. It is more appropriate to identify local hotspots through, for example, monitoring numbers of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.

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