Research suggests the Island’s R is below one

With fears of a second wave of coronavirus in the country, and the government trying to reduce the reproduction (R) number, research suggests the Island’s R is below one.

If the R number, the number of how many new people are infected by each case, is kept below one, it is believed the coronavirus pandemic will, in time, disappear.

However, if the R number rises the epidemic will grow — something the government is trying to avoid.

The government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions relies on the R number consistently falling and the number of cases and deaths dropping.

With more and more people heading out of the house on the Island, travelling to beaches and spending time outdoors — and from next week meeting in groups of six from different households — there is cause for concern that the R rate could rise and bring with it a second peak.

Now, new analysis compares the number of confirmed cases from local authorities and health boards over a two-week time frame to estimate the trend of the R number.

In the last two weeks before the data (from May 12 to May 26), confirmed coronavirus cases on the Isle of Wight increased by 40.

Latest data provided by researchers for Tuesday, May 26 showed the R rate to be 0.42, having fallen from 1.77 on May 18, when seven new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed — the highest the R number had been since the beginning of April.

Sharing their findings on Deckzero, a crowd-sharing data platform, researchers said: “This approximated value is not the instantaneous reproduction number.

“However, it does bear the same unit and trending as [the instantaneous reproduction number] and thus may offer a glimpse into how it might have changed during the last 14-day period.

“When cases are small, R will fluctuate more; however, this should not be treated as noise as the infection grows exponentially if undisrupted.”

Compared to the rest of the country, the Isle of Wight has a relatively low number of cases, so this number may fluctuate.

In Portsmouth and Southampton, the analysis puts the R number at 1.21 and 0.75 respectively.

The most recent value of the R number in the UK is thought to be between 0.7 and 1.0.

As more restrictions are lifted, with schools set to open next week, it is vital the R number stays below 1.0 to stop the spread of new cases.