The entirety of the UK, including Wales, is believed to have an R-rate below one, except for the South West of England, according to new data.
As the Welsh Government begins to ease lockdown measures, the latest estimated reproduction rate – or R-rate – of the virus in Wales is believed to be sitting at 0.8, according to the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Disease (CMMID).
This R-rate is the average number of people to whom an infected person is likely to pass the virus. Boris Johnson has previously said keeping this number down is “absolutely vital to our recovery”.
All four governments of the UK use it as an indicator of how much the virus is spreading within a country or region.
If the R-rate of an area is below one, each infected person is passing on the virus to fewer than one person – meaning the disease will eventually stop spreading.
The UK Government has repeatedly said that an R-rate under one, in addition to other factors, is essential for lockdown easing to take place.
The latest estimates, which take into account data up until May 24, reveal that the R-rate in Wales is comparable to much of the UK.
Seven UK regions – including London, the North East, the North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber – also have an estimated R-rate of 0.8.
In all of these locations, experts say the number of new daily cases of the virus is decreasing or likely decreasing.
In Wales, it’s believed the number of new cases will be halved every 9.6 days.
Of this group, the East of England and the South East are seeing cases halve the fastest – at 6.2 and 8.8 days, respectively.
Meanwhile, the East of England and the South East are believed to be the regions with the lowest transmission rate at 0.7. In both locations, daily new cases of the virus are believed to be falling.
The more precarious R-rates are found in the East Midlands and the South East. These are the only two regions of the UK currently believed to have a rate above 0.8.
It’s estimated the East Midlands has a rate of 0.9, though daily new cases of the virus are “likely decreasing”.
The South West of England is thought to have the highest R-rate of any other region, at 1.0.
According to the CMMID report, experts are “unsure” what impact this elevated R-rate is having on the number of new daily cases in the South West.
They estimate cases of the virus could double every 190 days.
The Prime Minister has previously said a reproduction rate over one risks an “exponential growth” of infections.
Announcing the first lot of easements for England on May 10, he said: “We must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease – the R – back up over one, so that we have the kind of exponential growth we were facing a few weeks ago.”
He warned that any measures which are relaxed may be reversed if there are signs that the spread of the virus is increasing again.