THE South West's 'R rate' has slightly increased and is now above the national rate, as coronavirus cases in Dorset remain low.

The fresh data, which has been released by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Friday, April 16 rates the ability to spread Covid-19 and the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.

The 'R rate' for the South West, including Dorset, stands at between 0.7 - 1.1, which is below the latest R number range for the UK of 0.7 - 1.0.

The Government says an R-value between 0.7 and 1.1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between seven and 11 other people.

The current growth rate in the South West is set at -7 to 0. The size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change.

A growth rate of between -7 per cent and 0 per cent means that the number of new infections is shrinking by between zero and seven per cent every day.

Last week, the South West had an R rate of 0.7 - 1.0 with a growth rate of -6 to 0.

These are the latest R estimates by NHS England regions: 

Region - R Growth rate - per day

England: 0.7 to 1.0, -6 to -1

East of England: 0.7 to 1.0, -6 to -1

London: 0.8 to 1.1, -5 to 0

Midlands: 0.7 to 1.0, -7 to -2

North East and Yorkshire: 0.7 to 1.0, -6 to -1

North West: 0.6 to 0.9, -7 to -2

South East: 0.6 to 0.9, -8 to -2

South West: 0.7 to 1.1, -7 to 0

The Government has however urged 'particular care' and caution when interpreting the R Rate for East of England, London, Midlands, North East, South East and South West. 

A spokesman said: "Particular care should be taken when interpreting these estimates, as they are based on low numbers of cases and/or dominated by clustered outbreaks.

"They should not be treated as robust enough to inform policy decisions alone.

"When the numbers of cases or deaths are at low levels and/or there is a high degree of variability in transmission across a region, then care should be taken when interpreting estimates of R and the growth rate.

"For example, a significant amount of variability across a region due to a local outbreak may mean that a single average value does not accurately reflect the way infections are changing throughout that region.

"Estimates for R and growth rates are shown as a range, and the true values are likely to lie within this range."