R number for UK has fallen to between 1 and 1.2

R number for UK has fallen to between 1 and 1.2

The R number for the UK has fallen to between 1 and 1.2, the closest it’s been to 1 since early September.

It comes as the Office for National Statistics says the number of people infected with coronavirus is slowing down.

Data up to 6 November, the day after England’s second lockdown began, shows infections falling in the north west but rising in the south and Midlands.

In Northern Ireland, infection rates were levelling off, the ONS says.

But in Wales rising infection levels were still continuing.

And it’s too early to say if they were stabilising a week ago in Scotland.

Although growth may be slowing in some parts of the country, Sage, the government’s scientific advisers, say “significant levels of healthcare demand and mortality will persist until R is reduced to and remains well below 1 for an extended period of time”.

An estimate of the R number, or reproduction number, of the virus is published every week and based on a number of different sources of data, including the ONS infection survey.

The ONS figures are based on thousands of swab tests in random households across the UK, thought to be one of the most reliable ways of judging how many people are infected with the virus – not just those with symptoms.

The data for the week to 6 November shows:

In England, the number of new cases is stabilising at 50,000 per day, the ONS says.

But infection rates appeared to increase in the south east, south west, East Midlands and the north east during that week.

The highest rates of infection were seen in secondary school age children, teenagers and young adults although they appear to be levelling off in these age groups.

Data from the Covid symptom app, based on one million people reporting symptoms, suggests cases are coming down across most areas of the UK – although numbers are still high.

Their figures are based on 13,000 swab tests carried out by users during the two weeks up to 8 November.

On Thursday, the government announced a record-high of 33,470 new daily confirmed cases in the UK, which represents people with symptoms coming forward to be tested.

Health officials said the rise could be a result of people being infected while socialising in the days before England’s second lockdown started on 5 November.

According to the latest data from Public Health England, infection rates are rising quickly in the over-80s, who are most at risk from Covid-19.

PHE said limiting contact with others “will help to stop the spread of the virus and protect the people we love”.

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