The coronavirus ‘R number’ for the UK is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.5, say government advisers.
Last week, it was between 1.1 to 1.4 (from 1.0 and 1.2), according to science advisory body SAGE.
It now believes there is “widespread growth of the epidemic across the country”, with new infections rising by between 4% and 8% every day.
The R number indicates the average number of people each person with coronavirus goes on to infect and needs to remain below 1.0 to keep the pandemic under control.
A number between 1.2 and 1.5 means every 10 people infected will – on average – infect between 12 and 15 others.
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There figure represents transmission over the last few weeks rather than a current snapshot, due to the delay between someone being infected, having symptoms and needing healthcare.
SAGE says the “true” R number is likely to lie within the range it provides.
England’s R number is estimated to be the same as the UK’s, while Scotland raised its range to between 1.2 and 1.6 on Thursday.
Wales also raised its number this week to between 0.7 and 1.2.
Northern Ireland gives a single figure, and on Thursday raised it from 1.2 to 1.5.
Other coronavirus developments include:
- Cardiff and Swansea to go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday, says Welsh government
- Scotland sets a new daily record of 558 cases, as does Northern Ireland at 273
- Leeds likely to face new restrictions from midnight, says council leader
- London to go on national watchlist, according to group representing the capital’s councils
The SAGE R number and growth rate estimates are put together using a variety of data such as virus tests and information on hospital admissions.
“Contact pattern surveys”, which track information on behaviour, and household infection surveys – where people are swabbed for the virus – are also used.
The latest R number figures come as separate research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated more than 103,000 people in England had the virus in the week ending 19 September.
That is almost double the week before when it was 59,800.
The ONS also estimated new infections in England had risen from to 9,600 from 6,000 the week before.
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