Covid R rate falls to between 0.8 and 1 - lowest since August

4 December 2020, 14:42 | Updated: 4 December 2020, 14:53

A shopper wearing a face mask in Regent Street, London
A shopper wearing a face mask in Regent Street, London. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The UK's coronavirus R rate has fallen to between 0.8 and 1 - its lowest level since August.

The Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) revealed the R rate - representing the average number of people each Covid-19 positive person goes on to infect - had fallen on Friday.

Last week, the R number was between 0.9 and 1.

Read more: Business Secretary says NHS staff would want vulnerable people at front of vaccine queue

When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

An R number between 0.8 and 1 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people.

The news came after the UK passed 60,000 Covid deaths on Thursday after 414 more fatalities were recorded.

A further 14,879 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the 24 hours to Thursday.

There have now been 1,674,134 confirmed cases in the UK since the outbreak began, while the overall death toll stands at 60,113.

The only countries to record more deaths are the US, Brazil, India and Mexico, but the UK has more deaths per 100,000 people than any of those countries.

The UK is the seventh highest across the world for deaths per 100,000 people, behind Belgium, San Marino, Peru, Andorra, Spain and Italy, according to John Hopkins University.

Separate figures published in the UK for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate and deaths that have occurred in recent days show there have now been 76,000 deaths involving the virus.

Earlier NHS England said 295 more people who tested positive for coronavirus had died in English hospitals, bringing the total death toll in the setting to 41,605.

Patients were aged between 39 and 99. All except 11, aged between 53 and 91, had known underlying health conditions.