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Coronavirus 'R number' infection rate for across England show South East is now above 1 as Boris Johnson puts brakes on lockdown easing

The crucial coronavirus infection rate in Kent has crept above one for the first time since lockdown was eased - as Boris Johnson announces he's putting the brakes on a return to normality.

The government is tracking the 'R number' across the country to see how more freedom affects the spread of the virus and based on infections increasing for the first time since May planned reopenings of 'high-risk' businesses and a return of wedding receptions have been cancelled.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA)

The R rate relates directly to how many people someone with Covid-19 is likely to spread the virus to - below 1 and the spread slowly decreases, above and it increases.

Anything above one could lead to restrictions being reimposed, the government previously said and now given the latest data changes to restrictions planned for tomorrow have been pushed back two weeks.

Face masks will also become compulsory in other indoor settings like museums and cinemas from August 8.

In the south east, including Kent, it was thought that the figure was 0.84 as of June 29, however this has now been revised to 0.95.

But since then pubs and restaurants have been reopened and travel restrictions eased.

The coronavirus infection rate sits at 1.02 in Kent. Stock picture
The coronavirus infection rate sits at 1.02 in Kent. Stock picture

Now the median figure, estimated by Public Health England and Cambridge University scientists, is 1.02, the second highest in the county behind the south west's 1.04.

Data now shows it has been 1.02 since July 7.

In Kent more than 1,000 people have now died in hospital from the virus while the official number of infections is more than 8,803.

But throughout, the public have been warned to maintain social distancing rules and that if the infection rate begins to exceed 1 lockdown measures will be put back in place.

According to the data released by Public Health England and the University of Cambridge, the median R number for the south east dropped to its lowest point (0.64) on April 1, a week in to lockdown.

Since then it has steadily increased and stood at just shy of 1 at the end of April before dropping to 0.75 at the start of June.

Before lockdown it was 2.48, meaning everyone with Covid-19 spread it to an average of 2.48 people.

The current research technique would not paint an accurate picture for more localised results but they plan to provide that over the coming weeks.

The figures also give the most accurate picture yet on how many more people are getting the virus and what the future may hold.

It estimates that across England there are 3,000 new infections each day, down from 17,000 two months ago, but that deaths each day are likely to fall to between 43 and 84 by mid-August - it was previously estimated the mid-July figure would be between 35 and 70.

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