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Coronavirus Cases Are Shrinking As The R Rate Drops Below 1 For The First Time Since July

New data from Sage shows the infection rate has fallen across the UK (PA)

2 min read

New data shows that the infection rate has fallen across the UK, four weeks after the nationwide lockdown began.

Figures from government advisory body Sage show that the latest R number estimate for all four nations of the UK is between 0.7 and 0.9, while the number of infections continues to shrink by between 2% and 5% each day. It's the lowest the R number has been since July last year.

The estimates of the R value are below 1 in all NHS regions of England, Sage said, adding that they are "confident the epidemic is shrinking" across all parts of the country.

But scientists warned that despite evidence the virus is beginning to decline, prevalence is still high. "It remains important that everyone continues to stay at home in order to keep the R value down, protect the NHS and help save lives," Sage said. 

An R value of 1 means that each person with Covid-19 is infecting one other person on average. Keeping the rate below 1 is key to managing the spread of infections, as it means the virus is being passed onto to fewer people than already have it. 

But Sage also added that the B117 coronavirus variant, known as the Kent variant, was thought to be “growing faster than the other coronavirus variant circulating in the UK”, and warned it will “take time” to understand the impact of such variants. 

Government estimates are based on the latest data up to February 8 including hospital admissions and deaths, symptomatic testing and prevalence studies.

Separate figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that around 695,400 people had coronavirus in England between 31 January and 6 February — the equivalent of one in every 80 people — down from 847,000 the week.

The rate in Scotland is now one in 150 down, from one in 115 in the previous week, while the rate in Wales is down from one in 85 to 75.

In England, London has the highest proportion of people testing positive, at about 1.6%, followed by the West Midlands, North West, East of England, and East Midlands at 1.4 per cent.

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