Coronavirus: UK’s R number edges down slightly to a maximum of 1.3

The UK’s coronavirus reproduction number has edged down slightly from a maximum of 1.4 to a maximum of 1.3, according to the latest figures.

The latest number has been confirmed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government on its response to the pandemic.

The R number is one of many indicators scientists use to determine how quickly COVID-19 is spreading.

The number is now between 1.1 and 1.3 in the UK, down from 1.2 to 1.4 last week, SAGE has said.

This means on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 13 other people.

The slight drop means the R number has fallen slightly for the second week in a row.

Government scientists said the estimated growth had slowed too.

A breakdown of the R number across regions in England

  • East: 1.2 – 1.4
  • London: 1.1 – 1.3
  • Midlands: 1.2 – 1.4
  • North East and Yorkshire: 1.1 – 1.3
  • North West: 1.0 – 1.2
  • South East: 1.2 – 1.4
  • South West: 1.2 – 1.5

The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between plus 2% and plus 4% for the UK as a whole.

A growth rate between plus 2% and plus 4% means the number of new infections is growing by 2% to 4% every day.

The most likely value is towards the middle of that range, according to the experts.

SAGE also said the figures published on Friday more accurately represent the average situation over the past few weeks rather than the present situation.

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.

It comes after figures from the Office for National Statistics figures suggested more than 560,000 people had coronavirus in England last week.

New coronavirus cases increased by around 51,900 in England each day last week, according to ONS estimates.

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