London could be on the verge of being placed under the harshest coronavirus lockdown restrictions after the R rate skyrocketed to as high as 2.9.

The rate of infection in the capital is now thought to be the highest in the country.

Figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care, compiled by Imperial College London and Ipsos Mori, indicate the virus continued to grow exponentially in the week to October 25.

However, its prevalence remains lower than other ‘very high’ risk regions such as Manchester and Liverpool, City AM reports.

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The authors of the report warned that Covid-19 ‘is now increasing most rapidly’ in the Midlands and the South – where ‘patterns of growth rate and the age distribution’ of cases are similar to those previously seen in northern regions now under tier three controls.

Health officials noted that prevalence across the country more than doubled last week, with estimates suggesting 128 in every 100,000 people currently infected meaning that the second wave ‘has now reached a critical stage’.

The R rate in the South is believed to be above 2 – but the study notes that there were ‘wide confidence intervals’ in the official rate.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the Imperial program, said the interim findings ‘paint a concerning picture of the situation in England’.

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