UK's Covid R number drops slightly to between 0.6 and 0.9

19 February 2021, 13:36 | Updated: 19 February 2021, 15:39

The UK's coronavirus reproduction number has fallen again, suggesting the pandemic is slowing
The UK's coronavirus reproduction number has fallen again, suggesting the pandemic is slowing. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Britain's coronavirus R number has dropped slightly to between 0.6 and 0.9 from a range of 0.7 to 0.9 last week.

The coronavirus reproduction number, or R-value, across the UK has now been falling for several weeks, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.

However, the number of people dying after testing positive for Covid-19 still remains high, with 454 further deaths recorded on Thursday.

It brought the UK's total figure since the pandemic began to nearly 120,000, nearly one year after the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that 20,000 deaths or fewer would be a "good outcome".

The R figure represents the average number of people each person with coronavirus is expected to go on to infect. When it is higher than 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially, but when it is lower, it means the epidemic is shrinking.

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An R number between 0.6 and 0.9 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between six and nine other people.

Britain's growth rate estimate is now between -6 per cent and -3 per cent, meaning new Covid-19 infections are dropping by up to 6 per cent each day.

The last time that figure was this low was at the beginning of July 2020.

Last week, the R figure dropped to between 0.7 and 0.9, the lowest it had been since the week of 31 July, where it ranged between 0.8 and 0.9.

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In some parts of the country - including London, the East and the South East of England, the regions which were first placed in Tier 4 restrictions at the end of last year - the R number is as low as between 0.6 and 0.8.

The R is highest in the North East and Yorkshire, where it currently ranges between 0.7 and 1.

It comes as the number of Covid cases falls in all regions of England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England.

In the East Midlands, the rate of new cases stood at 176.7 per 100,000 people in the seven days to 14 February - the highest rate of any region, but down from 228.4 in the previous week.

The West Midlands recorded the second-highest rate: 170.4, down from 243.1. The South West saw the lowest rate: 87.4, down from 123.1.

Case rates in England are also continuing to fall among all age groups, Public Health England said. The highest rate is among 30 to 39-year-olds, which stood at 192.5 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 14 February, down week-on-week from 270.8.

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