THE south west of the UK is predicted to have the highest R rate in the country, new figures suggest.

The Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases published regional R numbers which show that this region has just reached the critical R number of 1.0 and may be rising.

The same research suggests that every other region in the UK apart from the south west will see the R number fall.

The number represents the number of people an infected person will pass coronavirus on to. The government is trying to keep this figure below one in order to stop the disease spreading.

If an area's R number becomes greater than one, the epidemic will grow exponentially and we face a second wave of the virus.

Analysis published in May indicated that Swindon has one of the lower R numbers in the UK but it now seems that the same cannot be said for the rest of the south west.

Though the south west has consistently had the lowest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country this could mean the disease is spreading more slowly and not disappearing as quickly.

All regions are projected to have a halving rate - the number of days it is expected to take for the number of cases to halve. But the south west is the only region suggested to have a doubling rate of 190, which means that cases could continue to rise.

Andy Burnham MP said the region was "the biggest cause for concern".