COVID-19: England’s R number falls slightly to between 0.8 and 1

England’s R number has fallen slightly to between 0.8 and 1, latest figures show.

This means that on average, every 10 people infected with COVID-19 will pass it on to between eight and 10 other people.

Last week, the figure was estimated to be between 0.8 and 1.1 by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

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The daily growth rate of COVID-19 infections is also estimated at between -3% and 0%, compared to -4% and -1% a week earlier – meaning the number of cases is now shrinking by up to 3% every day.

R represents the average number of people a person with the virus goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially – but it is shrinking if it is below 1.

SAGE scientists say R estimates now span 1 for England and some NHS England regions, as seen below.

This does not necessarily mean R is definitively above 1 and that the epidemic is increasing, just that the uncertainty means it cannot be ruled out.

Data from Public Health England on Thursday showed that the COVID-19 rates continued to decrease in England during the last week of approval.

The number of cases per 100,000 people fell in all age groups between 26 April and 2 May apart from those aged five to nine, which saw a slight increase to 16.1 per 100,000 from 14.7 in the previous week.

Case rates continued to be highest in those aged 10 to 19 (41.5 per 100,000), while the lowest case rates were in the over-80s (4.8 per 100,000).

All regions saw a fall in case rates apart from the North West, which saw a slight increase with a rate of 24.9 per 100,000 compared to 24.1 the previous week.

Case rates remained highest in Yorkshire and Humber (41.7 per 100,000) and lowest in the South West (11.9 per 100,000).

So far, almost 35 million people have been vaccinated in the UK, with just over 16 million people received both doses of the jab.

On Friday, it was announced that all under-40s are to be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a precaution.

The change in advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation marks an extension to existing guidance where those aged under 30 were given a choice of COVID-19 jab over blood clotting concerns.

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