UK's coronavirus R number stays between 0.7 and 1 for second week

22 May 2020, 14:11

The spread of coronavirus in the UK is still between 0.7 and 1
The spread of coronavirus in the UK is still between 0.7 and 1. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The reproductive rate of coronavirus across the UK remained between 0.7 and one for a second week in a row, scientific advisers have said.

The R-number - the average number of people that will contract coronavirus from an infected person - was between 0.7 and 1 in the UK, reporters were told during a briefing on Friday.

There is a time lag in the calculations, with the latest R value relating to what was happening two to three weeks ago.

The latest rate is the same as the one released last week and remains higher than the previous one, which was between 0.5 and 0.9.

The lack of downward movement is thought to be driven by the continued spread of the virus in care homes and hospitals during the period covered rather than the wider community.

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Keeping the R number below 1 is a key goal Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set to allow the continued gradual releasing of the lockdown in the coming months.

If R is one or higher, the virus will spread exponentially through the population. An R number of less than one indicates the virus is in decline.

Mr Johnson has said ministers would reimpose controls if the rate of transmission of the virus started to pick up again.

Announcing his "road map" out of lockdown Mr Johnson said: "We must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease - the R - back up over one, so that we have the kind of exponential growth we were facing a few weeks ago."