Could Yorkshire's high coronavirus infection rate leave region with restrictions for longer than rest of country?

Yorkshire could trail behind the rest of the country as it came out of lockdown as new data showed it had the highest rate of infection in England, and the Government confirmed restrictions could be lifted on a regional basis.

New figures calculated by Public Health England and Cambridge University showed the R rate - which measures how many people on average an infected person transmits Covid-19 to - in Yorkshire and the North East was 0.8, double that in London.

It was the highest rate in England, as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) announced the overall infection rate in the UK may have risen to one, which would indicate the outbreak is growing.

The group said the number is now between 0.7 and 1, up from 0.5 to 0.9 last week.

A woman walks along the sea front in Whitby, Yorkshire , after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown. Photo: PA

If at the higher end of that scale, it means the number of people with the virus would grow.

The infection rate is key because it will determine what steps the Government takes to ease or impose restrictions.

Sage said the new range reflects the situation three weeks ago, adding that the number of cases in care homes and hospitals may account for the figure, and it was too early to tell what impact the lifting of some restrictions had.

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said easing of restrictions and their success “depends on all of us - the entire country - to follow the advice, to observe the social distancing and to keep that R down”.

And today Downing Street confirmed lockdown could be altered on a regional basis depending on the reinfection rate.

In guidelines released on Monday it was set out that measures would be targeted to specific areas in the future.

And the newly-released variations in infection rates across the country will raise questions about whether areas such as Yorkshire will have to stay under stricter rules for longer.

Today the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: "It could lead to some of the measures being eased at different rates in different parts of the country and at the same time it could lead to some measures being re-imposed in some parts of the country but not in others.”

The document released earlier in the week said: “The Government also anticipates targeting future restrictions more precisely than at present, where possible, for example relaxing measures in parts of the country that are lower risk, but continuing them in higher risk locations when the data suggests this is warranted. For example, it is likely that over the coming months there may be local outbreaks that will require reactive measures to be implemented reactively to maintain control of transmission.”

It added: “The Government may adjust restrictions in some regions before others: a greater risk in Cornwall should not lead to disproportionate restrictions in Newcastle if the risk is lower.”


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