THE South West's 'R rate' has increased and is now the highest in the country, according to the latest Government update. 

The fresh data, which has been released by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Friday, April 30 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 stands at between 0.8 - 1.2, which is higher than the latest R number range for the UK of 0.8 - 1.1. 

The Government says an R-value between 0.8 and 1.2 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between eight and 12 other people.

The current growth rate in the South West is set at -4 to 1. The size of the growth rate indicates the speed of change.

A growth rate of between -4 per cent and 1 per cent means that the number of new infections could be growing by up to one per cent every day.

Last week, the South West had an R rate of 0.7 - 1.1 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: 0.8 to 1.1, -4 to -1

East of England: 0.8 to 1.1, -4 to 1

London: 0.8 to 1.1, -5 to 0

Midlands: 0.7 to 1.0, -4 to -1

North East and Yorkshire: 0.8 to 1.0, -7 to -2

North West: 0.7 to 0.9, -6 to -2

South East: 0.8 to 1.0, -4 to 0

South West: 0.8 to 1.2, -4 to 1

A Government spokesman however urged caution when interpreting the R Rate for various regions. 

He said: "These estimates represent the transmission of COVID-19 two to three weeks ago, due to the time delay between someone being infected, developing symptoms, and needing healthcare.

"R estimates now span 1 for England and some NHS England regions.

"This does not necessarily mean R is definitively above 1 and that the epidemic is increasing, just that the uncertainty means it cannot be ruled out."