COVID-19: England's R number falls to between 0.9 and 1.1, latest government figures show

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England's R number has fallen slightly to between 0.9 and 1.1, the latest government figures show.

Last week, the R value - or reproduction number - was between 1 and 1.1.

The R number indicates the average number of people each COVID-positive person goes on to infect.

An R number between 0.9 and 1.1 means every 10 infected people will, on average, pass the virus on to between nine and 11 other people.

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Anything above 1 means the coronavirus outbreak is growing exponentially - but below 1 means the case rate is shrinking.

However, it is unclear if the pandemic is growing or shrinking in England as the latest growth rate is -2% to +2%.

This means the number of new infections could be broadly flat, shrinking by up to 2% every day, or growing by up to 2% every day.

The South West of England currently has the highest R number, at 1.0 to 1.4, with a growth rate of zero to +6%.

It comes as the Office for National Statistics estimates around one in 70 people in England (766,100 people) had coronavirus in the week ending 27 August.

This is unchanged from the week before.

But the ONS said infection rates have increased in Scotland, while they have gone down in Northern Ireland. The trend is uncertain in Wales.

In Scotland, one in 75 people is estimated to have had COVID, in Northern Ireland the figure is one in 65, while in Wales it is one in 110 people.

The ONS says this is the highest estimate in Scotland since last autumn.

Sarah Crofts, head of analytical outputs for the COVID-19 infection survey, said: "In Scotland, we are seeing our highest estimate of infections since we started collecting data last autumn with a notably sharp increase recorded in the week to 28 August.

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"The results from this kind of surveillance study are critical to allow us to continue to monitor infection levels, especially as we move into winter months."

The trend in Wales is uncertain, the ONS said, with one in 110 people estimated to have the virus.

The latest daily government figures on Thursday showed the UK recorded 178 more coronavirus-related deaths and 38,154 new cases.

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