Remembering the R rate; An Analysis

Borris Johnson announces plans to reduce R rate.
England are set to leave lockdown on December 2. Source: Pixabay via (Google images)

By Dominic Williams | News Editor

As the second wave of Coronavirus hit the UK, all 4 nations went about the lowering the R rate.  Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England all had varied approaches on how to tackle the pandemic. With much discussion on which way was the right method to lower the R rate, each nation has seen different impacts from their guidelines. The R rate is vital in the fight against Coronavirus, as it shows us how many people are likely to get infected from a person who is ill with Coronavirus.

Following First Minsters, Mark Drakeford’s decision to only enter a two-week firebreaker in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. After the two-week lockdown ended, Health Minister Vaughan Gething, claimed that the rate would need to drop below 1 for case numbers to fall.

Therefore, after the end of the 17-day firebreak lockdown the Welsh Government’s scientific advisory group published its latest data on the R rate. The most recent estimate has the figure between 0.9 and 1.2, down from 1 and 1.3. It is vital that this R is decreased as families look to reunite over the Christmas period, and business owners are opening their doors to Christmas shopping.

While England are in the midst of a national lockdown which is set to end December 2nd Borris Johnson has recently announced his guidelines for the Christmas period.

The three-tiered regional measures will return from the 2nd and will be reviewed every 14 days. Johnson also spoke that the regional approach will last until March.

Again, a key factor in the tough restrictions is the R rate, reproduction rates and projected pressure on the NHS. For the first time since COVID-19 hit the UK, spectators will be allowed to return to some sporting events with a maximum of 4000 people being allowed.

The three-level tier system has different dependents on household mixing. In tier one a maximum of six people can meet indoors or outdoors; in tier two, no households can mix indoors with a maximum of six meeting outdoors. Finally, in tier three household mixing is banned, with most outdoor mixing being banned.

Although in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister said the R number in Scotland was below one nearly half of the Scottish population will go back into lockdown.

The First Minister confirmed that East Lothian will drop to level 2 curbs, which would allow bars and restaurants to start selling booze again, however also said that no major changes will take place to tier 4 lockdowns across the country.

However, over in Northern Ireland who have seen a rise in COVID-19 deaths, the Stormont executive has imposed new restrictions which are due to take effect from Friday 27 November.

Some of the key details are people from different households are still not allowed to mix indoors, with some exemptions with ‘’bubbling’’ allowed with one other household. Furthermore, from 27 November all non-essential retail will close. Also, the health guidance has been updated to say that “no unnecessary travel” should be undertaken.

Due to the devolved administrations each U.K nation has dealt with the pandemic in different ways, however following an emergency COBRA meeting each nation has come to a collective agreement on COVID rules for Christmas.

Households across the UK will be able to form a ‘’Christmas bubble’’ with two other households during a five-day window over the festive period. These restrictions will last between 23 to 27 December with travel restrictions also being lifted across the whole of the U.K.

All the governments have agreed that a balance needed to be struct, between protecting public health and allowing people to see their loved ones. Although Christmas is set to look at lot different this year, all four U.K nations have come together in order to provide some structure over this period.

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