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COVID-19: UK’s R number falls to between 0.8 and 1 – suggesting lockdown is slowing the spread of coronavirus

Written by on 22/01/2021

The coronavirus R number in the UK has fallen sharply since last week, suggesting the lockdown is slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The R, which refers to the number of people that an infected person will pass COVID-19 on to, is between 0.8 and 1 across the UK, according to the figures released on Friday by the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

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Last week, the R – or the reproduction number – was between 1.2 and 1.3 for the UK as a whole.

The growth rate is now estimated to be between -4% to -1% – last week, this was between +2% and +5%.

Scientists advising the government said that all regions of England have seen falls in the R number and growth rate estimates compared with last week, and R is below or around 1 in every region.

However, they warned that despite the reductions, case levels “remain dangerously high and we must remain vigilant to keep this virus under control, to protect the NHS and save lives”.

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SAGE scientists said: “It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home, whether they have had the vaccine or not.

“We all need to play our part, and if everyone continues to follow the rules, we can expect to drive down the R number across the country.”

The update comes as separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there had been a slight drop in the number of people infected with coronavirus in England after lockdown measures were introduced.

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An estimated one in 55 people in private households in England had COVID-19 between 10 and 16 January, down from one in 50 people for the Christmas period of 27 December to 2 January.

The data is from a random sample of people, including those with no symptoms, but does not include care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings.

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Minister on border closures

Meanwhile, a cabinet minister has told Sky News that the full closure of the UK’s borders has been “considered” by the government amid concerns about new COVID variants being imported from abroad.

Everyone who tests positive for coronavirus could also soon receive a one-off payment of £500, in a government move to persuade more people to get a test and self-isolate after a positive result.

 Sky News

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