UK R number drops slightly to between 1 and 1.1

20 November 2020, 13:46 | Updated: 20 November 2020, 14:34

New figures suggest the UK's R number is falling slightly each week
New figures suggest the UK's R number is falling slightly each week. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The R number showing the transmission rate of coronavirus across the UK is nearing 1, new data shows.

Data released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1 and 1.1.

Last week the R number also fell to between 1 and 1.2, in a sign that the national lockdowns in Wales and England are working to suppress the transmission of the virus.

Read more: Coronavirus rates 'levelling out and may be starting to drop'

Read more: Restrictions 'are working' as R number falls below 1 in Scotland

Tough local restrictions in Scotland, which being extended to 11 new areas on Friday, are also showing signs of success, with the estimated R number falling below 1 in many areas.

The estimates for R and the growth rate are provided by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), a sub-group of Sage.

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between 0% and plus 2% for the UK as a whole.

It means the number of new infections is growing by 0% to 2% every day.

Scientists advising the Government said the estimates of R and growth rates have fallen slightly in recent weeks but do not reflect the lockdown measures that came into force in England on November 5.

Read more: Toughest Covid restrictions in Scotland to be imposed on 11 council areas

Read more: Wales' 17-day firebreak lockdown 'did succeed' in reducing Covid rates

They said: "Sage are not confident that R is currently above 1 in England, although this will not be fully reflected yet in the data streams on which our models are based.

"These estimates are based on the latest data available up to November 17, and do not yet accurately reflect the interventions introduced in England on November 5."

It comes amid "substantial differences" in Covid-19 infection rates being recorded across England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Infection rates in large parts of the North West have been falling consistently for a few weeks, while rates increase in the more areas across the South.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon 'utterly scunnered' by new Covid restrictions imposed to ease Xmas

Data from November 8 to 14 suggests the overall national infection rate for England is similar to the week before, with rising rates in primary school aged children - but there are signs the lockdown is beginning to have an impact.