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Coronavirus 'R number' infection rate for across England revealed

The crucial coronavirus infection rate in Kent is only just below 1, new figures show.

As lockdown is eased the government is tracking the 'R number' across the country to see how more freedom effects the spread of the virus.

The coronavirus infection rate sits at 0.97 in Kent. Stock picture
The coronavirus infection rate sits at 0.97 in Kent. Stock picture

The figure 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.

In the south east, including Kent, the figure is now 0.97, the third highest in the country.

Only the south west (1) and north west (1.01) are higher, while London has a rate of 0.95.

In Kent at least 822 people have now died in hospital from the virus while the official number of infection is 5,880. However, the total death toll in all settings stood at more than 1,100 as of May 22.

It comes as scientists warned that we are moving out of lockdown too quickly after Boris Johnson's government allowed people to meet up in groups of six.

Many experts are worried the NHS' track and trace system for keeping tabs on infected people to curb further spread is not up to scratch and yesterday it was revealed it is not expected to be 'world class' until September.

Schools and businesses have also started opening and from Monday, June 15, shops will welcome back customers.

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 (0.7) on April 13, three weeks in to lockdown.

Since then it has steadily increased and has gone from 0.92 when Boris Johnson further eased lockdown on May 13 to 0.98 before dipping slightly.

Before lockdown it was 2.42, meaning everyone with Covid-19 spread it to an average of 2.47 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 17,000 new infections each day but that deaths each day are likely to fall to between 100–250 by mid-June.

It adds: "There is some evidence that Rt has risen in all regions and we believe that this is probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households and in public and workplace settings."

Earlier this week we revealed how new infections had fallen by 60% but a division in the rate of infection seemed to be emerging in the county.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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